House of Scotland Tartan Day

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April 6 is the official U.S. date of National Tartan Day – a day to celebrate the Scottish Declaration of Independence and the achievements of those of Scottish descent. House of Scotland in San Diego’s Balboa Park hosted their annual Tartan Day celebration on Saturday, April 1.  A group of Outlander San Diego Edition lassies met up to enjoy the day.

We were looking forward to not only each other’s company, but the sound of bagpipes, the taste of Scottish vittles, and, of course, men in kilts!

Fun Fact: The American Declaration of Independence was modeled after the Scottish Declaration of Independence.

Find out more here. (source: 

As usual, the San Diego weather was perfect for an afternoon spent outside – sunny with a breeze.  Balboa Park is a beautiful historical place full of museums, gardens, trails and the world famous San Diego Zoo. The International Cottages represent 34 nations and ethnicities, including Scotland. Many events are hosted by various houses throughout the year.

Tartan Day is a free family-friendly event.  Husbands and kids joined us, some even sporting a bit of plaid! As we approached the International Cottages, we could hear the melodic sounds of bagpipes.  It turned out to be the Solo Bagpipe Competition.  We continued on and found a somewhat long line entering the House of Scotland for some Scottish desserts such as bread pudding with whisky. They were also selling bangers, meat piesand haggis.

Several booths were set up on the open lawn area surrounded by the International Cottages.  The House of Scotland received the proceeds from their resale booth.  Previously owned Scottish-themed treasures were sold at reduced prices to give items a new home where they could be further treasured.

Second hand treasures looking for a new home.

This adorable musical kilted bagpiping bear was an irresitable steal at just $2.00!  Lady K couldn’t resist snatching him up to add to her ever-growing collection of Scottish knick-knacks.

Since the beginning of our Outlander obsession, we’ve heard the phase, “All because she wrote a book,” many times in reference to friendships made due to Outlander.  While at the Tartan Day celebration, we experienced this very thing, literally,  forming a spontaneous friendship as so many fans have done.

While gazing at the tea pots on a table “Oh! Diana’s book!” was heard.

On the table was a copy of Voyager.  A conversation began “Hi! So you’re an Outlander fan?”


“Great! Are you a part of the San Diego Outlander group?”

“I am!”

“Perfect, there are a few of us meeting here in about five minutes.  Be sure to stick around and join us.”

“I will, thanks!”

Lo and behold – from that small discourse a new Outlander comrade was been made! As the group gathered,  we introduced ourselves to those we hadn’t met yet.  We then had an even bigger group of fans that came together to celebrate the spirit of Scotland, all “because she wrote a book!”

The book that sprung new Outlander friendships at the Tartan Day celebration.

Celtic Corner, a Scottish gift store in Coronado, California, also had a booth with several items for sale. Clan coasters, kilted bears, Scottish terriers and even hedgehogs were available.

Bears, and Scotties and Hedgehogs, oh my!

There were a handful of Clan Booths and a Royal Scottish Country Dance Society booth.  One displayed posters with interesting Scottish facts and information. The Scots apparently have bright and imaginative minds! It was fascinating to learn that many of the things we use regularly are thanks to inventive Scots: color photography, television, refrigerator, electric toaster, flush toilet, and electric clock, just to name a few.

Scottish inventions and achievements.

When reading this medical accolade, I couldn’t help but think that Bree had something to do with the invention of the hypodermic syringe. I picture the syringe that Bree fashioned from a snake tooth. Further, wouldn’t it be wild if Claire had helped with the discovery of penicillin?!  She was growing it so many times while at Fraser Ridge, knowing how many ill people it would help.

Scottish breeds of dogs and cats.

After perusing the booths, we set up blankets on the grass in front of the stage. The entertainment consisted of music by Highland Way and dancing from the Royal Scottish County Dance Society as well as young dancing lassies from Ashworth Academy. The melodies from Highland Way got toes tapping and others up on their feet.  The graceful dancing of the adults was beautiful to witness, but the wee ones from the Academy, lined up from tallest to smallest, stole the show with their jigs.

Music fans of all ages enjoyed Highland Way.

Meeting up with fellow Outlander aficionados is always fun, but when you combine it with family and a lot of Scottish music, dancing, sights and food, it is absolutely perfect. We look forward to many more opportunities to gather.  If you have the chance to attend a Scottish festival, we highly recommend that you do.    We’ve attended a few from San Diego to Los Angeles and have always had an enjoyable time.

Check your area – a quick search on the internet for “Highland games” and “Scottish festival” pulled up the following events, and there are many more out there!

San Diego Scottish Highland Games (Vista, CA)

Seaside Highland Games (Ventura, CA)

Scottish Festival and Highland Games (Itasca, IL)

The Mother Lode Highland Games (Plymouth, CA)

The Monterey Scottish Games and Celtic Festival (Monterey, CA)

Dandridge Scots-Irish Festival (Dandridge, TN)

Dundee Scottish Festival (Dundee, NY)

Blairsville Scottish Festival (Blairsville, GA)

Prescott Highland Games (Prescott, AZ)

Arizona Highland Celtic Festival (Flagstaff, AZ)

Tucson Celtic Festival (Tucson, AZ)

Central New York Scottish Games and Celtic Festival (Liverpool, NY)

Find various California festivals here.

All photos from our blogs are owned by Timeless Sass3nach Journeys, unless noted or attributed. The use of our photos is not permitted unless consent is given.


National Tartan Day information source: 

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