The Royal Highland Show has a long and eventful history and as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the very first Highland Show in 2022, organisers the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) have lots planned to commemorate this landmark year.

The Scottish Farmer: Ingliston House, pictured in 1930

As part of the celebrations, the Royal Highland Show Illuminated will be projecting the show’s history onto buildings throughout Scotland, charting the show’s humble beginnings right up until the present day, using never-before-seen images, films and documents from the its extensive archives.

Illuminating the history of the Highland Show

Taking place over four weeks in March, the Royal Highland Show Illuminated project, produced in association with Turcan Connell, will project expressive imagery woven together with never-before-seen treasures and untold stories from the archives, onto buildings across Scotland.

The Scottish Farmer: Visiting the Royal Highland in 1990, HRH Prince Philip

The sensory events aim to raise awareness of the show and highlight its positive impact on Scotland throughout the years.

The Scottish Farmer: Highalden cattle provided the 'poster shot' for the 1949 show in Dundee

The installations, which are free to attend, will feature a five-minute long visual history of the show, told through animations, images, films and archive footage. They will take place in eight locations around Scotland, from Dumfries and Galloway to Inverness, referencing how the show would tour each of the RHASS member regions annually before it settled permanently at the Ingliston site in 1960.

The Scottish Farmer: A poster for the Alloa-based Highland Show in 1929

The Royal Highland Show is a key moment in both Scotland's events and agricultural calendar and these installations will showcase its wide-ranging impact and influence over the last two centuries while looking to the future of both the show and the society that is charged with running it.

The Scottish Farmer: Princess Anne visits the Royal Highland show, Ingilston, Edinburgh, pictured with Jim Gammie, chief cattle steward in 2008

RHASS chairman, Bill Gray, commented: “To celebrate the bicentenary of the show, we wanted to do something special. The Royal Highland Show Illuminated is the perfect way to give back to regional communities and the RHASS membership across Scotland and herald the return of the show.

“After two long years without a full show, we are going all out to make the 200th anniversary Royal Highland Show the best one yet. The events will see a powerful and poignant portrayal of the Show’s value and importance to Scotland’s communities.”

Impact and influence

The first show was held in 1822, on the grounds of Queensberry House in Edinburgh’s Canongate. Over the last 200 years, a lot has changed (not least a Royal Charter) but the purpose of it remains the same – to put a spotlight on the very best of Scotland’s food, farming and rural life.

The Scottish Farmer: A birds' eye view of the Royal Highland Show in 2019 when it hosted its largest ever crowd

The impact and influence of the show on the sector is vast – not only economically, but culturally. It’s a vital part of achieving RHASS’ charitable remit, promoting the role of Scotland’s agricultural and rural industries to society at large.

It helps drive innovation in the sector, too, through the Technical Innovation Awards and fostering the sharing of new ideas and best practice.

The Scottish Farmer: The Centennial Show was held in Edinburgh in 1884

For four days of the year, the Royal Highland Show helps people combat the challenges of rural living by offering community, support and friendship. It provides the opportunity to re-engage with friends and acquaintances, something which we all need more than ever after the last few years.

The Scottish Farmer: Her Majesty HRH The Queen Mother meets with the Royal Canadian Mounties at the 1977 Royal Highland Show

It also provides a platform for both rural and urban communities to come together and experience the best our country has to offer – and most importantly, experience a fantastic day out!

A show to remember

The 2022 event will see the Royal Highland Show take place in its full glory for the first time since 2019.

Visitors, competitors and businesses will come together once again for what is simply the best shop window Scotland has to offer. Featuring a number of new and exciting additions to the showground, not least the new Members Pavilion overlooking the main ring, it will be a show not to be missed.

The Scottish Farmer: Royal Highland Show Illuminated ... heading to a venue near you!

With visitors required to pre-book online this year, it is advised to secure your ticket sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, RHASS members will be asked to confirm which days they’d like to attend in advance – e-mails containing further information about this will be sent out in April, so keep an eye on your inboxes.

There are a lot of exciting things in the works which will be revealed in the run up to the start of the show on June 23. One thing you can be sure of is that the stops are pulled out to fittingly celebrate 200 years of Scotland’s biggest and best display of farming, food and rural life.

A short history of the Royal Highland Show:

• 1822 – First Highland Show held on grounds of Queensbery House, with 1000 people attending and total takings of £52.

• 1884 – The Centennial Show celebrates 100 years since the formation of the Highland Society.

• 1899 – The Royal party were at the Edinburgh Highland Show, Prestonfield.

• 1929 – The show is held in Alloa.

• 1948 – King George VI grants warrant for ‘Royal’ to be added to the title of the Highland Show.

• 1952 – HRH Queen Elizabeth II becomes Patron of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.

• 1957 – The Canadian Mounties visit the Royal Highland Show in Dundee.

• 1960 – Ingliston Estate purchased by RHASS as permanent home for the Show.

• 1977 – The Queen Mother inspects the Royal Canadian Mounted Guard at Ingliston.

• 1990 – Prince Philip visits the Show.

• 2003 – The Golden Shears World Championships are held in 2003 in the purpose-built MacRobert Theatre.

• 2008 – HRH, the Princess Royal attends the 2008 Royal Highland Show accompanied by Jim Gammie, chief cattle steward.

• 2019 – Aerial view of the 2019 Royal Highland Show, the last in-person show before the pandemic and the most attended ever.

• 2020 – Work finishes on the new Members Pavilion overlooking the main ring in March, 2020.

• 2021 – The Royal Highland Showcase 2021 goes online, streaming live around the world over seven days last June.

You can find out more about the Royal Highland Show Illuminated here: