Scottish Festivals and Highland Games


I recently took a trip to Scotland, to attend the Highland Games! (ok - that statement might be a tiny bit misleading) It was a very cool and interesting event, and I wondered where and when other such events might be happening. What better way to analyze this kind of information, than on a custom map!

I didn't get any pictures on my trip, but here's a picture my old college buddy Brian took when he visited Scotland ...

Let me start my blog by confessing to my slight deception ... I didn't go to Scotland (the country), but rather Scotland county, North Carolina (a couple hours south of Raleigh, NC). That's the home of the Scotland County Highland Games. It was a rainy day, but that didn't dampen the spirits of all the bagpipe bands, the dancers, and those crazy folks with big arms competing in the games (you might find a few interesting pictures on their Facebook page).

There were some really nice folks at this festival - such as the guy that handed me a couple of free tickets as I walked towards the entrance (in the rain), the lady that offered advice on finding out about the Scottish history of my family name, the huge athlete with the pink mohawk who talked with me about 'throwing things', and several pipers who were eager to share information about proper Scottish attire.

Naturally I thought "Hmm, I might do this again sometime."

But I needed to know where and when similar events might be. I started searching on Google, looking for similar events in and around North Carolina. I came up with a pretty decent list, but I wasn't familiar with all the town names. So I used SAS to plot the data on a map! Click the map image below to see the interactive version, with HTML mouse-over text for each of the markers, and then you can click the markers to launch a Google search for each event. There's also a table below the map, if you prefer to view the data in table form.

Where are the Scottish Festivals and Highland Games near NC? Click To Tweet

Technical details:

Hopefully when you look at the map you don't even think about technical details ... but if you're a SAS programmer and would like to know the 'secrets' I used in my code, here they are:

  • I stored the data for each festival on multiple lines of text, and I use multiple 'input' statements to read it.
  • I use Proc Geocode to determine the latitude & longitude of the cities with festivals.
  • When I project the map, I save the projection parameters using Proc Project's new parmout= option, so I can project the city data points separately using those same parameters via the parmin= option.
  • I use the annotate 'pie' function to place markers on the map at each festival location. I use the annotate 'html' function to supply the HTML mouse-over and drilldown, and I use a slightly transparent yellow for the pie color.
  • When there is more than one festival in the same city, I use a slight x-offset so you can see the multiple markers.
  • I annotated the titles, rather than using a traditional title statement, so I could place the title text in the same area as the map (rather than above it).
  • I embed HTML tags in the table text, so that the festival name gets interpreted by the browser as an HTML drilldown link (which launches a Google search for information about the festival, just like the annotated markers in the map).
  • I use style(header) and style(data) options in Proc Print, to increase the size of the text in the table.

Unfortunately it was too rainy to use my camera and get cool photos of everything, but I did buy a plaque with my family crest and tartan on it, so I'd have a keepsake to remember the event by ...

Do you have a favorite Scottish Festival or Highland Games near where you live? How about one near North Carolina that I left off of my map? Feel free to mention it in a comment!



About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over a quarter century, and his specialty is customizing graphs and maps - adding those little extra touches that help them answer your questions at a glance. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University.

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  1. Rich La Valley on

    Robert, i had the opportunity to attend the Braemar games several years ago which is usually attended by the royal family and is the last games of the year. Queen Elizabeth, prince Phillip and Prince Charles attended and I was in the stands within 100 ft of the royal seats. There were 14 different Scotish Drum and pipes marching and the best Highland game athletes were there. It was great fun and I have a great friend, Stuart MacBride and his wife Sheena to thank for the experience!

  2. We have Scottish bagpipes and band performing at Oktoberfest American German Club South Florida
    Another is Boar's Head festival Bethesda by the sea church palm beach Fl but no real Scottish festival I'm from the Macneil clan anyway & I'd like to start a Scottish Festival of the Palm Beaches

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