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The Queen Mary ScotsFestival & International Highland Games

The Queen Mary ScotsFestival & International Highland Games

See burly men and more during annual Highland Games

Editor's note: The Queen Mary is currently undergoing repairs and plans to reopen in late 2022.

The legendary Queen Mary luxury ocean liner, now permanently docked in Long Beach, might just be the biggest party boat in the world. The ship’s social calendar overflows with special annual events, taking place on or adjacent to the 1,000-foot, 81,000-ton cruise ship.

One of the highlights is February’s annual ScotsFestival and International Highland Games. The festivities are a nod to the big boat’s birthplace—it was built in Clydebank, Scotland, between 1930 and 1934—so it’s only fitting that the Queen Mary has an annual party celebrating her Scottish heritage.

The annual event stages professional and amateur competitions that harken back to the days when such contests were held to test the strength, skill, and technique of ancient warriors. It’s a rare opportunity to watch athletes compete in such time-honored events as the hammer throw, the caber (tree trunk) toss, and others. Meanwhile, festival-goers are also entertained by traditional Highland dancing, piping, drumming, massed bands, darts, Celtic harp concerts, and even falconry and sheepherding demonstrations.

Since no celebration of Scottish culture would be complete without partaking of their proud traditions of distilling and brewing, there are Scotch whisky and beer tastings, with aged-malt experts on hand to share their insight. There’s even a Wee Highland Games that the young ones can take part in, and adults can get competitive with the inflatable Castle Obstacle Course.

Visit for the day, or enjoy the weekend’s-worth of festivities with an overnight stay in one of the ship’s classic staterooms. 


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