WHETHER you're a sun worshipper or not, summer is undoubtedly an exciting time of year.

Even as we've been awaking most mornings to gloomy weather and scatterings of rain that makes an embarrassment out of newly bought summer clothes, on the flip side the season sparks a packed programme of community events.

With a calendar of activities ripe for the picking, the biggest worry I often find is making time to attend all the top attractions.

A big highlight for me this year is the choice of Highland Games that are hosted throughout the country. Championing a rich history and serving as a catalyst for that unequivocal feeling of patriotism, a visit is a sign of a well spent summer if you ask me.

As West Dunbartonshire gears up for the Loch Lomond High Games this Saturday, memories of my first ever highland games' experience springs to mind.

Around six or seven years old I was taken to the family friendly day out that was the Inverkeithing Highland Games.

Despite a few intermissions over the years for various reasons, the Games have been running since before the Great War of 1914-18.

Of course this meant nothing to me at the time, but in my childlike state of curiosity, I have fond memories of tartan clad dancers swirling; burly men with puffed out cheeks throwing seemingly immovable objects, and pipers omitting unfathomable noises. (Note, I now savour traditional Scottish music, be it fiddles, bagpipes or Gaelic singing, but in my childhood was far from roused.)

Pipes aside the games had a real impression on me in my younger years. Not yet familiar with the traditions and cultural practises that make Scotland so unique, the Games served as a can't-avoid, smack you in the face assertion that whilst small, my home country was a proud one.

This is an important lesson to learn when you're growing up. Seeing your country's cultural practises carried out with passion instils a sense of identity and belonging, and I don't think this lesson diminishes at all throughout the years.

So my advice for families looking to fill the school holiday weekends up would be to make time for Highland Games.

The annual Loch Lomond Games at Moss o’ Balloch is one of the top competitions in Scotland, with a prize fund of £10,000 up for grabs.

Events visitors can look forward to include wrestling, cycling, tossing the caber, and tug-o-war. Though one of the most eagerly anticipated competitions will involve strong men flexing their muscles as competitors from Poland, America and Iceland take part in the Scottish Highland Games Association World Heavyweight Championship.

The Highland Games take place this Saturday from 9.30am until 5pm.

Tickets can be bought on the day at the gate, with an adult ticket costing £5; kids and over 60s £3; and family ticket (two adults and up to three kids) £13.