Scotland’s biggest outdoor event is just days away, promising four jam-packed days of world-class livestock displays, equestrian competitions, shearing spectacles, live music, food and drink, shopping, children’s activities and much more. With both sunglasses and wellies at the ready to cover all weather scenarios, Karen Peattie sets out for Ingliston

ALL roads lead to Ingliston at this time of year as the Royal Highland Show throws opens its doors to visitors from near and far, all of them seeking a slice of rural life and the chance to meet farmers face to face, see animals up close and personal and taste the best food and drink that Scotland’s larder has to offer.

Show organisers the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS), fresh from last year’s bicentenary event, are confident that this year’s extravaganza focusing on farming and rural life will be even bigger and better.

As RHASS chairman Jim Warnock explains: “Fresh from a glorious 2022, the Royal Highland Show 2023 is shaping up to be a stellar showcase of Scotland’s best in food, farming and rural life.

Forestry Journal: Soon be time for the Royal Highland Show again!

“Even if you’ve never stepped foot on a farm, it’s an incredible day out – where else can you get up close to farmyard animals, taste the best of Scottish food and drink, see world-class equestrians, experience the thrill of the Main Ring parade, or climb aboard a giant tractor?”

In its 201st year, the show is a platform for Scotland’s agriculture in its widest sense, with the produce it provides for the nation, including fruit and vegetables, oils, meat, and dairy produce such as ice cream and cheese all very much in the spotlight – with plenty of free sampling opportunities before buying your favourites to take home.

The Royal Highland Show, which attracts up to 200,000 visitors each year contributing a not insignificant £39.5 million to the local economy, is key in connecting producers to consumers so it has a long-established educational role – which is why groups of schoolchildren of all ages attend year after year.

Following sell-out days last year, show organisers have reviewed health and safety protocols and increased the capacity of each day from 50,000 to 53,000, allowing up to an extra 12,000 people to attend and enjoy the event.

Over 800 businesses will be selling everything from agricultural machinery, clothing and motor vehicles to Scottish food and drink. Indeed, in recent years the Royal Highland Show has become almost as famous for promoting food and drink as it is for its livestock.

In 2023, the show will also host the Golden Shears World Sheep Shearing & Woolhandling Championship, which will welcome competitors from over 30 countries around the globe.


FROM whisky, gin, cheese, ice-cream and confectionery to charcuterie, bakery, Arbroath Smokies and soft fruits, the Royal Highland Show is a magnet for foodies who flock to Ingliston for food and drink tastings, cookery demonstrations and an outstanding array of the best Scottish produce.

For these visitors, the food hall and Scotland’s Larder the “must visit” destinations to discover an unrivalled showcase of the very best produce that is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.

While there’s an opportunity to taste the best of Scottish produce, visitors can also discover artisan offerings from across the UK, meet the producers and learn about the provenance of their food and businesses.

New this year is the Mimi’s Bakehouse-hosted Highland bothy in the centre of Scotland’s Larder where you can enjoy delicious, freshly baked cakes, tea and coffee while thinking about which vendor to visit next.

It’s unlikely that visitors will find so much of Scotland’s best food and drink in one place – over 75% of exhibitors in Scotland’s Larder based in Scotland. Some producers will offer samples to try before you buy and throughout the showground there are food and drink stalls selling a wide array of produce, from Aberdeen Angus steak burgers to the freshest seafood.

All the catering suppliers in the showground are held to the highest standards. The Royal Highland Show’s strict Food Charter ensures that only locally-produced and ethically-sourced food is served at the show – from delicious venison burgers to tasty fish and chips, finished off with a bowl of Scottish strawberries bursting with flavour.

The winners of the Scottish Championships for dairy, bread and honey will also be unveiled at the show. This includes prizes for classes including ice cream, butter, artisan loaves, honey cocktails and much more.


PANS to the ready! Cooking demonstrations are always hugely popular at the Royal Highland Show and the Food for Thought Conference & Cookery Theatre is where you’ll find all the action.

Situated in the east of the showground, next to the Forge, the venue will host some of the best chefs, food writers and producers from around the country as they prepare and cook dishes are delicious and innovative, discuss all things gastro, and answer questions from the audience.

One chef who is sure to entertain is Craig Wilson, known as “The Kilted Chef”. Craig is the owner of the award-winning Eat on the Green restaurant in Udny Green, Aberdeenshire, and boasts over 30 years in the industry.

Passionate about locally-grown produce and showcasing the best of Scotland’s larder, Craig was named a Regional Food Tourism Ambassador for Aberdeenshire by Scotland Food & Drink, and plays a key role in raising Scotland’s profile as a global food tourism destination.

Another chef taking part in Food for Thought this year is Sarah Rankin, a MasterChef 2022 finalist, food writer and lover of Scottish flavours and produce who celebrates Scotland’s larder and its artisan producers.

Sarah, who will be hosting the 30th Golden Spurtle World Porridge Championships in October after appearing as a judge in last year’s competition, loves to support local suppliers, sustainable food practices and Scottish produce, and is working on her first cookbook, Kith which celebrates Scottish flavours, seasonality, local producers, and the joy of cooking for those you love.

Also on stage over the four days will be host Catriona Frankitti. After a successful career in food product development, Cat started her own business in 2010 delivering food education workshops in schools. Her passion is promoting the health benefits of eating Scottish oil-rich fish and wild game.

Meanwhile, Paul Terris, an award-winning development chef who hails from St Andrews, has spent the last two decades immersed in the world of food. When not creating delicious recipes, Paul runs the impressive Instagram account @chefterris where he shares with his 4,500-plus followers his passion for cooking and new culinary flair.

Forestry Journal: Paul TerrisPaul Terris

Describing himself as “just a humble cook”, Paul will bring modern French/Scottish style of cooking to this year’s Royal Highland Show dignitaries and visitors alike.

Head chef of the Crown Hotel in Peebles, Kirsty Elliot’s theme will be wild venison supplied from Tweed Valley venison with Stornoway black pudding sautéed potatoes and seasonal greens.


Forestry Journal: These distinctive pyjamas designed by Scottish-born Karen MabonThese distinctive pyjamas designed by Scottish-born Karen Mabon (Image: Supplied)

BRANDS such as Harris Tweed Hebrides, Lochcarron of Scotland and Eribé Knitwear will take to the catwalk as British Wool holds a fashion show during each day of the Royal Highland Show, showcasing the best of British wool.

The Flock to Fashion shows will feature models, all with an agricultural background, to debut the latest collections from renowned brands from across Scotland.

In addition to the fashion show, British Wool will have a dedicated stand in the retail area, giving attendees the chance to browse locally sourced woollen products. From stylish knitwear to luxurious blankets, there will be a trove of goods available for those seeking high-quality wool furnishings and fashion.

Graham Clark, marketing director of British Wool, said: “The fashion show is a chance for us to highlight Britain’s rich textile heritage and the timeless appeal of British wool. It’s a brilliant opportunity to bring together iconic Scottish brands – from the traditional elegance of Harris Tweed to the contemporary pieces from Eribé Knitwear, as well as other British brands such as Peregrine, Glencroft and Aubin.

“We’re thrilled to have members of the public who have strong links to farming take to the runway as our models. It infuses the show with a genuine connection to the heritage of wool and the industry, something that we aim to champion.

“We’ll also have some exclusive show offers for visitors to shop the brands and support local British farmers in the process.”


FARMERS may don the traditional overalls and wellies when they tend to their livestock but they’re actually quite a fashionable bunch with discerning taste when it comes to what they wear away from the farm – and if you want to replicate the style of the men and women who are at the centre of rural life in Scotland, then the Royal Highland Show is the only place to go.

An array of brands – well-known and not so familiar – will exhibit a huge range of men’s, women’s and children’s countrywear, footwear and accessories. Brands to look out for include Fairfax and Favor, House of Tweed, Oliami, Joules and Dubarry. New to the show this year are Hicks and Hides leather goods, Hendry Equestrian of Dunbar, and Beaumont & Bear.

READ MORE: Royal Highland Show: Sold-out Friday and Saturday draw massive crowds

Making their return to Ingliston after their successful debut at the 2022 RHS are the distinctive pyjamas designed by Scottish-born Karen Mabon, whose luxury designs can be found in high-end stores including Anthropologie and Liberty.

Part of the official merchandise collection to mark last year’s show bicentenary year, Karen, now based in London, designed the pyjamas and scarves for the collection.

The designs from Karen, who grew up on the Black Isle, bring together everything we love about the show including farmyard animals, winners’ rosettes and, of course, tractors.


Forestry Journal: Royal Highland Show

FIRST held in 1822 on a site that is now home to the Scottish Parliament, today the Royal Highland Show is regarded as one of Europe’s best agribusiness shows.

With a big wheel, food and drink hall – Scotland’s Larder – a bustling Countryside Area, loads of activities for the kids, machinery exhibits, exciting displays of farriery and forestry, not forgetting shopping opportunities aplenty, there’s something for everyone.

From Valais Blacknose and Dutch Spotted sheep to cattle, goats, heavy horses, Shetland ponies and show jumping, this year’s Royal Highland Show is shaping up to be a cracker.

The big wheel, offering visitors a bird’s eye view of all the action and dubbed the “Ingliston Eye”, will be located in the Lifestyle Village.

Of course, there will also be the usual entertainment offerings across the Royal Highland Show itself – expect everything from pipe bands and ceilidhs to choirs and pop music.

Also back is the dedicated Kids Zone in the Countryside Area. This interactive is sure to delight kids and parents alike, and will feature activities such as a nature trail, featuring outdoor play equipment and John Deere mini tractors!

Children will be able to take part in activities and find out more about the history of the Royal Highland Show in a fun, interactive way.

This is in addition to the ever-popular Discovery Centre, run by the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) and designed to help curious young minds learn more about the countryside and where their food comes from.

Following last year’s introduction of the Royal Highland Show app, it’s back for 2023 to enhance the experience for showgoers.

Supported by Royal Bank of Scotland, the Royal Highland Show will take place at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, Edinburgh, from June 22-25.

This article originally appeared in our sister title, The Scottish Farmer. 

Visitors can find Forestry Journal on 4th Avenue opposite the Forestry Arena. We'll have full coverage from the event across our social channels and in July's magazine.