It's time get your kilt to the dry cleaners and blow the dust off of your set of bagpipes; DeFuniak Spring's first-ever Scottish Christmas Festival is right around the corner.

What was once a small gathering between early December events has become a three-day long event honoring north Walton County's Scottish heritage.

"Walton County and DeFuniak Springs have a rich Scottish heritage dating back to the early 1800s," said Mitzie Graff, manager of Walton Area Chamber of Commerce. "The original settlers in Walton County were mostly Scots. The majority of whom came from the Isle of Skye and the Highlands of Scotland."

The festival weekend kicks off Friday, Dec. 13 at 4C BBQ with a Ceilidh, which is a Gaelic social gathering involving Gaelic folk music and dancing. A Scottish Band and open mic for storytelling and poetry will keep with tradition. The next day, the downtown area will be celebrating all day with games for the weans or small children performances by The Emerald Coast Pipe and Drums and The Drake School of Irish Dance, local Scottish Clans will have booths as well to discuss history and traditions for anyone interested. You'll also get to meet characters from Scottish literature and movies, such as William Wallace in the 1995 movie "Braveheart."

Each year, the festival will honor a local Scottish clan at the festival. This year, the crowning title goes to Clan MacLeod.

"The three sisters of clan MacLeod, who still have a home place in DeFuniak Springs, have been crucial to the success of this event," Graff said. "We couldn't have the event without their backing and excitement."

And since Christmas is coming soon, there will be plenty of shopping opportunities during Saturday's events.

"There all are sorts of vendors who will be at the festival and the shops in DeFuniak Springs will also be open." Graff said. "We have such a wide variety of shops and vendors, which are all outstanding. Just about anything you have on your holiday list can be obtained."

St. Nicholas will make an appearance before the festival ends Saturday at 5 p.m., but don't leave yet. Once the sun sets, Christmas Reflections begins, when more than 40 acres of lights will be reflected off of Lake DeFuniak.

 WANT TO GO? The Scottish Christmas Festival, sponsored by McDonald's of DeFuniak Springs, will be 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13 at 4C's BBQ, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14 along Baldwin Avenue between 8th and 10th Streets. The event, which includes a Haggis toss, is free and open to the public. On Sunday, Dec. 15, watch Kirkin 'O the Tartan in the amphitheater on Circle Drive, starting at 11 a.m. For more information, contact Mitzie Graff at 892-3191.