Traditionally, the Highland Games revolved around athletic and sports competitions. Through these competitions the king would select the finest athletes to be his personal guards and entourage. The games were also a way for clans to showcase their relative strength without actually having to go to war. Some of the implements used in the games were created as alternatives to traditional weapons when England forbid any Scotsman from bearing arms. Though other activities were always a part of the festivities, many today still consider Highland athletics to be what the games are all about—in short, that the athletics are the Games, and all the other activities are just entertainment. Regardless, it remains true that the athletic competitions are at least an integral part of the events and one—the caber toss—has come to almost symbolize the Highland Games.
Athletes come from far and wide come to compete (many locals compete too.) Events include: caber toss, weights for distance, weight over the bar, heavy hammer, open stone putt, braemar stone putt and sheaf toss.