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Museums, Galleries, Music and More

Travelers discover a world of wonder when they embrace a destination's arts and culture. Whether you examine the Mona Lisa's mysterious smile in Paris, walk in soldiers' footsteps on Civil War battlefields or shimmy to live music in Nashville, cultural attractions can be the highlight of any vacation.

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Atholl Highlanders
Atholl Highlanders

Atholl Highlanders

Members of the Atholl Highlanders -- Europe’s only legal private army -- participate in the Open Tug O' War at the Atholl Gathering at Blair Castle in Perthshire, Scotland. The earliest recorded highland games were held during the reign of Malcolm Canmore, King of Scotland nearly 1,000 years ago. 960 1280

Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint  

Ballater Highland Games in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Ballater Highland Games in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

A sword-dancing event takes place at the Ballater Highland Games in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, as a piper provides musical accompaniment. The original highland games decreed that young men should gather to hold tests of strength so the best of them could be enrolled in royal service. 960 1280

Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint  

The Lonach Highlanders

The Lonach Highlanders

The Lonach Highlanders, a society formed in 1823 to preserve Highland dress and Gaelic language, march once a year to open the Lonach Highland Gathering in the Strathdon area of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. 960 1280

Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint  

The weight-throw event

The weight-throw event

In the weight-throw event, a weight ranging from 14 to 56 pounds (depending on the event) is thrown by either its handle or a chain. It can be thrown using any technique, although a spinning technique is the most popular. Here, a man participates in the Newtonmore Highland Games and Clan Macpherson Annual Rally in Newtonmore, Scotland. 960 1280

Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint  

The weight-over-bar event

The weight-over-bar event

In the weight-over-bar event, like the one pictured here at the Newtonmore Highland Games and Clan Macpherson Annual Rally, the athletes toss a 56-pound weight over a horizontal bar. The catch is they can only use one hand. They are allowed 3 attempts at different heights, and the highest successful toss with fewest misses wins. 960 1280

Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint  

Newtonmore Highland Games and Clan Macpherson Annual Rally

Newtonmore Highland Games and Clan Macpherson Annual Rally

A pipe band competes at the Newtonmore Highland Games and Clan Macpherson Annual Rally. The Newtonmore gathering was first held in October 1945 as a welcome home to the village’s returning servicemen after 6 years of war. Their first games were held in a small arena beside the 17th hole of the Newtonmore golf course. 960 1280

Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint  

World Highland Dancing Championship

World Highland Dancing Championship

The world’s biggest Highland Games are the Cowal Games held in Dunoon, Argyll, Scotland. These games are also home to the World Highland Dancing Championship where dancers gather from the US, Canada, Australia and South Africa to compete in this form of traditional Scottish dance in its homeland. 960 1280

Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint  

Atholl Gathering at Blair Castle

Atholl Gathering at Blair Castle

Members of the Atholl Highlanders dance during the Atholl Gathering at Blair Castle. The Atholl Gathering prides itself on having held onto many of the old Scottish traditions, and the grounds of Blair Castle make for a perfect afternoon for the spectators as well as the participants. 960 1280

Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint  

The McGlashen stone

The McGlashen stone

The McGlashen stone tests the athletes’ strength when they have to lift it onto a whisky barrel. For centuries, a young man was considered a man when he was able to lift his clan's testing stone to waist height. 960 1280

Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint  

The caber-toss event

The caber-toss event

In the caber-toss event, a long, tapered pine log is held upright and hoisted by the competitor who balances it vertically. Running forward, the competitor tosses the caber so that it turns end over end. In a successful toss, the caber is as close as possible to vertical and the athlete is said to have “turned the caber.” 960 1280

Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint  

The Scottish hammer throw

The Scottish hammer throw

A competitor prepares his swing in the Scottish hammer throw, where a round metal ball attached to the end of a wooden shaft about 4 feet long is whirled about the competitor’s head and thrown over the shoulder. Hammer throwers sometimes even wear footwear with flat blades to dig into the turf so they don’t lose their balance mid-throw. 960 1280

Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint  

Inverness Highland Games in Scotland

Inverness Highland Games in Scotland

Most Highland Games include piping and drumming competitions, ranging from solo piping, pictured here on the Eden Court lawn during the Inverness Highland Games in Scotland, to solo drumming, small ensemble and pipe band competitions. 960 1280

Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint  

Atholl Highlanders

Atholl Highlanders

The pipes and drums of the Atholl Highlanders sound as they march from Blair castle to the field at the start of the Atholl Gathering held annually in Perthshire, Scotland. First employed as the personal bodyguards of the Duke of Atholl in 1839, the regiment is now purely ceremonial. 960 1280

Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint  

Highland Games  13 Photos

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Perched on an extinct volcano, Edinburgh Castle is an instantly recognizable fortress and a powerful national symbol. 960 1280

Chris Hepburn/Getty Images  

Kilt Rock and the Mealt Waterfall

Kilt Rock and the Mealt Waterfall

The observation point for views of Kilt Rock – located between the towns of Portree and Staffin on the Isle of Skye – resemble the pleats of a kilt.  The Mealt Waterfall falls nearly 180 feet into the rocky coast below. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

In the western Highlands, Eilean Donan sits at the meeting point of 3 lochs: Loch Duich, Loch Long, and Loch Alsh. Tourists can tour nearly every corner of the castle, which was rebuilt in the 20th century. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Lock Portree

Lock Portree

Portree is the largest town on the Isle of Skye. Take a walk around Loch Portree and stop by a pub for a dram of whisky or a pint of ale. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

University of Glasgow Cloisters

University of Glasgow Cloisters

Pass through the University of Glasgow Cloisters beneath Bute Hall, the main building. And make sure you take a moment to appreciate the neo-gothic architecture seen in the archways and pillars. 960 1280

Arthur Hsu  

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle in the Highlands of Scotland may be in ruins, but the location couldn't be more beautiful overlooking Loch Ness. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle

Renovated in the 18th-century, Culzean Castle is not only one of Scotland’s most beloved castles, but it also has an expansive estate, with a beautifully landscaped garden that runs right up to the Firth of Clyde coastline. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Scottish Traffic Jam

Scottish Traffic Jam

The perfect way to see the Scottish countryside? Rent a car for a scenic drive, but beware, this may happen to you. 960 1280

Olivier Renck / Aurora / Getty Images  

Johnstons of Elgin

Johnstons of Elgin

Take a free, guided tour of 200-year-old Scottish mill Johnstons of Elgin to see cashmere transformed from fiber into beautiful scarves and other garments. 960 1280

Johnsons of Elgin  

Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey was founded in 1136 but largely destroyed 2 centuries later. The expansive ruin and lavish masonry are unsurpassed in Scotland. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Loch Ness

Loch Ness

See it? The Loch Ness Monster? No? Well, hoards of tourists still visit in hopes of getting a glimpse of the mystery and take in the spectacular scenery.   960 1280

Thinkstock  

National Museum of Scotland

National Museum of Scotland

You'll find everything you've ever wanted to see from Scotland at the National Museum in Edinburgh, from dinosaur bones to a milk bottle once carried by Sean Connery. 960 1280

Getty  

St. Andrews Links

St. Andrews Links

Perhaps the oldest standing golf course in the world, St. Andrews has become a bucket-list trip for avid golfers around the world. Originally built in 1457 with 22 holes – changed to 18 holes in 1764-- this famous course is a huge source of pride for the country Scotland.  960 1280

Thinkstock  

Skara Brae

Skara Brae

Uncovered by a storm in 1850, the prehistoric village of Skara Brae presents a remarkable picture of life around 5,000 years ago, before Stonehenge was built. 960 1280

Getty  

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle

This forbidding structure, surrounded on 3 sides by steep cliff dropping down 250-ft, was chosen for its strong defensive purposes. It was built in the 12th century, but evolved into its current form during the 15th and 16th centuries; when it served as the fortress for the Scots. 960 1280

Alex Janssen, flickr  

Cawdor Castle

Cawdor Castle

Explore Cawdor Castle's lush gardens, and you'll see it's a still-lived-in structure, as opposed to decaying ruins. 960 1280

Vicky Brock, flickr  

Inverlochy Castle

Inverlochy Castle

Spend a night at picturesque Inverlochy Castle, one of the most luxurious hotels in Europe. It has 17 private rooms with views of the grounds and surrounding Grampian Mountains. 960 1280

Inverlochy Castle  

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

A stunning red-sandstone structure, part cathedral and part castle, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum houses one of the greatest civic collections in Europe, with works by Rembrandt and Monet, among others. 960 1280

StaraBlazkova, Wikimedia Commons  

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