Dunedin Highland Games

History of the Games in Dunedin

Dunedin Highland Games & Festival

The Dunedin Highland Games and Festival Committee, consisting of volunteers and supporters, was formed in 1965, raises funds to support:

The City of Dunedin Pipe Band

The Dunedin High School Scottish Highlander Band

The Dunedin Highland Middle School Band

and the Director of Scottish Programs.

We formally changed our name (in 2015) to the Dunedin Scottish Arts Foundation, and are dedicated to preserving Scottish heritage in our City, as well as promote all forms of Scottish Arts to include performing and visual arts.

The Games and Festivals also serve to entertain the public while informing them of the Scottish culture. Corporate and community financial support ensures the continuation of the games into the future for the pleasure of the attendees and the participants.


Scottish families originally settled the City of Dunedin in 1899. Two Scotsmen, J.O. Douglas and James Sumerville named the settlement Dunedin, the Gaelic interpretation of Edinburgh, their hometown in Scotland.

In 1957 the Dunedin Highland Junior High (now Dunedin Highland Middle School), was built in honor of Dunedin’s founders. Attending the opening ceremonies as a reporter, Bob Longstreet, who later became a mayor of Dunedin had an idea. His newspaper’s owner was Roy Thompson, a Scottish Lord. Soon a gift set of bagpipes was on its way from Scotland. Matt Forsythe, a piper extraordinaire who just moved to Dunedin from Scotland, offered his services and the Highlanders were on their way! The students moved up to the newly built Dunedin High School a few years later and then there were two pipe bands! Soon after, a third band representing the City was formed that consisted of mostly Dunedin High graduates.

In 1964 the City of Dunedin invited Stirling, Scotland to join in the People-to-People program as a Sister City of Dunedin. The City of Stirling reciprocated and the intertwining of the two cities began. In May 2000, the village of Summerside, Prince Edward Island, a city very much like ours, with a strong Scottish heritage became our second sister city.

The Dunedin Highland Games & Festival Committee is holding its 49th Annual Highland Games in 2015.  Events through the years have grown to include a Military Tattoo, a Celtic Music & Craft Beer Festival, a Tartan Reception, and new this year, a Tartan Ball, celebrating the Life & Times of Scottish Poet Robert Burns.


Bagpipes are woven into the fabric of Dunedin, as intimately as the wool in the tartan worn by the pipers themselves. Citizens (whether children, teens, adults, or seniors) all love to listen to pipe music. A function in Dunedin is not complete without a Piper!


Dunedin Scottish Arts Foundation is a 501(c )3 not-for-profit organization. Proceeds from all events benefit the Dunedin Highland Middle School Band, the Dunedin High School Scottish Highlander Bands (2), and the City of Dunedin Pipe Bands (3), and the City’s Director of Scottish Programs.

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