PEEBLES Highland Games have been cancelled this year due to coronavirus.

The popular annual event was due to take place in Hay Lodge Park on September 5.

But organisers have announced that festivities will be shelved until 2021.

Peebles Highland Games Association chairman Chris Patterson said: "It’s been a very difficult decision to make."

The games trace their history back to 1972, when the first local pipe band contest was held.

Since then, various activities have been added – including highland dancing, haggis hurling and craft-making.

Mr Patterson said: "Having cancelled the games in 2013 while the drainage issues in Hay Lodge Park were being addressed, we had hoped the games wouldn’t need to be cancelled again for a very long time.

"However, the ongoing threat from COVID-19 to the wellbeing of our community, visitors and volunteers has meant that we have to put safety at the forefront of our considerations and call off the games for 2020."

When coming to the decision, officials followed the advice from the UK and Scottish Governments, according to Mr Patterson, with particular focus on the games' ability to enforce COVID-19 guidelines.

The association broke the news to its Facebook followers on May 14.

The statement reads: "As a result of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the committee of Peebles Highland Games Association have decided to take the difficult but necessary decision to cancel this year’s event which was due to take place on Saturday, September 5.

"Whilst we know that this decision will be disappointing for many, we feel it is the correct one to make in the interests of protecting the safety of the local community, competitors, spectators and officials many of whom travel from far and wide to come to Peebles.

"We know the Games are one of the highlights of the year for many people and an event which many make plans for well in advance.

"We share everyone's disappointment at this news but hope that all our supporters stay safe and well until the threat posed by the virus has passed.

"Peebles Highland Games will still be here in 2021 when we look forward to welcoming everyone back to Hay Lodge Park on Saturday, September 4."