With hundreds of years or heritage and a show featuring more than 3,000 trade and livestock exhibitors, the Royal Highland Show is a must-do for Scotland's agricultural crowd.
But it's also a fine day out for all. Based at Ingliston, near Edinburgh Airport, the Royal Highland Show's 280 acres packs such variety it's a draw not just for those with an interest in farming and the countryside but for absolutely anyone who's looking for a great day out.
Steve and I arrived at about 8:30, which is a little on the late side if you want to avoid a wait. Our top tip for getting the most out of the day is to arrive early and leave early (at around 3:30pm) to miss the queues. We'd suggest you aim to arrive between 7:30 and 8am (gates open at 7:30) and booking your tickets online will not only save you a fiver a head (for adults) and £2 on your car parking, it'll also prevent a lengthy wait at the entrance. (On which note, RHS needs to have more kiosks open early on, as it was noticeable that many who hadn't bought their tickets in advance were elderly; a long queue seems an unkind punishment for being 'old-school' and resistant to online shopping.)
Once inside, we orientated ourselves with the free map and checked the programme times on the boards dotted around and beside the show-grounds and arenas. We focused on the countryside arena, of course, and planned our wanderings and food breaks based on the sessions we particularly wanted to see. These included the Quack Commandos, a fly-casting demonstration and Ben Potter's eagles display.
But in between times, you'll find vehicles, farm and forestry machinery of every kind...
And dozens of places to eat, including vans selling buffalo burgers, steak pies and sizzling prawns; formal offerings with crystal glasses in sit-down spaces, picnic places with live band-stand music to accompany you.
You'll also have the very best of Scottish fruit and quality ice-cream to choose from, including the best ever My Whippy from Ashers - thanks to the lovely lady in the Ashers van from Stirling!
You can shop for everything from dog beds to dog shoes, bespoke signs for your farm to beautiful honey for your table; candles and cleaning cloths; tractors and trinkets; saws and sandals, forestry rigs and fresh figs; paintings and plated silver, boots and bargains; rifles and roses...
And, of course, there is livestock! Sheep, cows, goats and poultry - for show, for sale and even for supper - if you wish.
And everything equine: showjumping, pony races, heavy horse parades, and horse-shoeing demonstrations.
You can also win yourself the soft-toy versions...
You can sit and take it all in, the family hubbub and the wonderful atmosphere; you can try something new - like us, having a go on the Petronas F1 simulator (with intro from Lewis Hamilton)! Or you can just enjoy the stunning setting, with its streams, lochan, trees and flowers.
We loved the Royal Highland Show this year and would highly recommend it if you are interested in any aspect of Scotland's farming, food or countryside.
The Show is a tribute to the enormous amount of hard work and dedication given by each and every organiser, exhibitor and seller and their passion for what they do guarantees you a fantastic day out, especially if the weather plays ball, like it did for 2018.
Want to know more?
We'll do another post about our top tips about the Royal Highland Show so that you'll know how to make the most of it if you go next year.
And we've got a special post with video of the amazing eagle display that Ben Potter put on in the Countryside Arena. Ben managed to fly the largest birds of prey in the world in what must be one of the smallest arenas in the country in a show you'll definitely want to see.
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- Deborah Brazendale
- The RHS Media Centre (Livestock, Showjumping and Shoeing)