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Highland Dancing at the Northumberland Scottish Festival & Highland  Games 

Our Scottish Festival attracts hundreds of highland dancers every year, some as young as four years of age, all happy to display their expertise in highland dancing.  The dance competitions begin at 8:00 am on Saturday June 15th and continue throughout the day. Dances include the Highland Fling, Sword Dance, Seann Triubhas and the Irish Jig. 

Heads up!

If you participated in or attended the Festival in our previous Cobourg location you'll notice some changes this year.  Our new, larger site in Port Hope has free parking and the Highland Dance competition will be held indoors so no need to haul a gazebo or tent along!  You only need to bring your lawn chairs or mats.

Check out the site map of our Port Hope location.



Dating back to the 11th century, the Highland Dances of Scotland tended to be highly athletic dances of triumph, joy, or some other reflection of everyday life. Competitive Highland dancing, for men only, started during the Highland Revival of Victorian Britain. Ladies began competing at the turn of the 1900's. No matter who dances them, Highland Dances require both athletic and artistic skill.

Dancers belong to one of five levels: primary, beginner, novice, intermediate and the big leagues - premier. Each level divides into age categories.

Highland Fling

The Highland fling was originally performed by the Highland warrior on his targe after battle. Accordingly, it was danced in one spot without travelling steps. The dance is often considered to be the greatest test for the Highland dancer. Despite the variety of steps, it should be danced in the same position on the stage, perhaps because originally, the Highland fling was said to have been done on the shield of the clansman. It has become the classic solo dance at competitive dancing events.

What the Judges Look For

Sword Dance

The sword and scabbard are crossed on the ground to define the dancing spot. According to legend, the sword dance was danced on the eve of battle. The warriors, who were able to dance the sword dance without touching the sword with their feet, would be successful in the approaching battle.

Seann Triubhas

Pronounced sheen trews, Seann triubhas is Gaelic for "Old trousers". This dance celebrated the lifting of the act of proscription, the law that forbade the wearing of the kilt by the common Highlander. The dance symbolizes the kicking off of the hated trousers. The seann triubhas is associated with the period from 1746 to 1792.

Irish Jig

This dance has nothing in common with the true Irish Jig of Ireland, but is rather the take-off of an Irish washer-women angry at her husband. Whereas the dance should be danced by a boy and a girl together, often the girl's part only is danced in competition.

The ANDY WALLACE MEMORIAL IRISH JIG perpetual trophy, keeper trophy and $50.00 cash will be presented to the winner of a dance off of the premier winners and first runners-up of the jig event.


The dancers' footwork and coordination with head, arm and hand movements. Good dancing requires proper positioning of the feet. No matter how graceful or agile the dancer, the dance loses its attractiveness if the foot positions are wrong.


The dancer's ability to follow the rhythm of the music with his or her body.

General Deportment

The dancer's interpretation and ability to capture the spirit and motif of the dance, includes balance, general appearance and carriage of the head, arms, body and hands. Upright posture is essential. Dancers must show pleasure.

Cobourg Dance 2024 Vic Hall.jpg
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