Scotland Celebrated, Queen Mary-Style

The big ship pays festive tribute to its birth country.

Queen Mary

ONE MOMENT, PLEASE: You know we're here to talk about one of the Queen Mary's most famous and well-attended annual events, the wintertime Scottish Festival and Games. You know we'll mention "plaid" and "whisky" at some point. And we'll attempt to do so with some bonny cheek. But we must pause to marvel at the photo above, which happens to be one of our favorite photos on the Southern California annual calendar. One, it has animals in it, so, love. But two? It looks like one of those Photo-Shopped, screen-composite images, right? There's a dog. Some sheep. People. Palm trees. And, in the background, a massive ocean liner. It all seems delightfully fictional -- like, when and where would those things really come together -- but it is not. That is indeed Long Beach, and the Queen Mary, and we love seeing a bit of Scot sass played out against the palm trees and Pacific.

2012 DATES: The Scottish Festival is set for Saturday, Feb. 18 and Sunday, Feb. 19. Parading and music and the eating of shortbready goodness is all on the bill, as are the always popular sheep-herding demos. Highland dancing? Aye. Clans on the march? Aye, again. Everything Scottish will be on display, as it should be; the Queen Mary was built on the banks of the River Clyde back in the early '30s. And you know the Queen Mary is serious about its heritage; the ship has that whole shop devoted to tartans and Scottish sweets and such. A one-day pass to the fest is $18 if you buy in advance; it'll be $22 at the ship.

ONE MORE THING... About sheepherding dogs. They're wonders. We know this, but we can't leave without repeating it. We recently watched two dogs and their flock; one dog was busy herding and one dog kept a wary eye on the observing humans, like, "don't even think about messing with our process." That is teamwork and sheer intelligence. Bravo, sheep-herding pups of the world.

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