Queen Mary ScotsFestival: Games, Tartans, Whisky

Cabers shall be thrown and dances shall be danced.

FEBRUARY, MIGHT AND HEART: Valentine's Day Weekend, much of the world over, is about wine glasses and fragrant roses and sweet nothings. It's less about caber tossing and feats of strength and traditional shows of powerhousemanship, unless, of course, you're on the Queen Mary. The Long Beach permanently-in-port ocean liner forgoes many of the staples of the February holiday in favor of hammer throws and sheep herding and whisky tastings and all things Scotland. For the middle of the month is very much about the ship's famed ScotsFestival, one of the kiltiest conventions in all the land. Is it big? Aye. Is it well-attended? Aye again. Shall there be piping and drumming to stir the senses and age-old dances to thrill? A thousand more ayes for ya. And, yep, darts shall be thrown, with precision and finesse.

THE ONLY QUESTION... is where to begin on your Scottish odyssey. We'd advise starting with a walk back in time on the ship, which happened to be built in Scotland, on the River Clyde (lest you're wondering what the connection might be). From there? Oh, you could spend the bulk of Saturday, Feb. 15 and Sunday, Feb. 16 watching the weight toss and shopping for tartans and listening to music and engaging in a whisky tasting (aye, that's whisky, not whiskey).

IF ALL OF THE HIGHLAND HAPPENINGS... have you in a bit of a whirl, stay on-board. The ship's hotel has a few packages available, including the Lairds ScotsFestival Package, which includes tickets and three nights in the Art Deco-y, straight-from-the-1930s water-sailing wonder. By the by, do you know that the Queen Mary has its own tartan? It does, with blue being a principal color. Blue for the ocean, symbolically, which reminds us: Spend a bit of the festival talking with people who know their patterns, because many stories are told in each and every kilt.

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