Crowds out in force for Aboyne Games

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The Highland Games season on Royal Deeside got underway at Aboyne on Saturday.

Now in its 151st year, the popular event drew an estimated crowd of nearly 10,000, many travelling from around the world.

Clear, sunny skies and warm temperatures helped to draw in the visitors.

Alistair Grant, games chairman, said: “It has once again been a very successful day with a great crowd through the gates.

“They have been treated to some wonderful performances across all events. Our judges have also commented on the high standard of competition that they have seen.”

The day got off to a rousing start as nine pipe bands marched through the village and onto the green, before playing throughout the afternoon.

A busy programme of nearly 100 events ensured visitors were entertained until the early evening.

The grandstands were packed around the main arena to watch displays of skill, strength and fitness in the Highland dancing, tug o’ war, children’s races and light and heavy athletics events.

Fans of traditional music were treated to a number of fine performances in the piping and fiddle music events.

Away from the competitions, around 80 trade stands showcasing a range of local produce and crafts, and a funfair provided interest and entertainment for all ages.

For the first time, the games were officially opened by Alistair, Earl of Aboyne, who was officiating in place of his father, Granville Gordon, the 13th Marquis of Huntly, who is chieftain of the event.

The Marquis – who became chieftain in 1987 – was absent due to a back injury. It was the first time in 55 years that he had missed the games.

Aboyne Games traditionally welcomes many overseas visitors, and 2018 was no exception.

Tourists from Alaska, Uruguay, Russia, Turkmenistan and China all marked their countries of origin in the overseas tent.