The Glorious Twelfth – August 12: History, Activities, Facts & Quotes

August 12, known as the Glorious Twelfth, is a date steeped in rich history and cultural significance. This day marks the start of the shooting season for red grouse, a game bird found predominantly in the United Kingdom. The Glorious Twelfth is celebrated by hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, and those intrigued by the intersection of tradition and nature. 

History of The Glorious Twelfth

The Glorious Twelfth, also known as the Twelfth of August, is the traditional opening day of the grouse shooting season in the United Kingdom. It is a major event in the shooting community and is often celebrated with parties, dinners, and other festivities.

The history of the Glorious Twelfth dates back to the 1770s, when the Game Act of 1773 established August 12 as the opening day of the grouse shooting season. The act was passed in response to concerns about the declining population of grouse, and it set limits on the number of birds that could be shot.

The Glorious Twelfth became a major social event in the Victorian era, as it was a time for the upper classes to gather on their country estates and enjoy the sport of grouse shooting. The day was often celebrated with lavish parties and dinners, and it became known as the “New Year’s Day of Hunting.”

The Glorious Twelfth remains a popular event today, although it has become more controversial in recent years. Some people argue that the sport is cruel and unnecessary, while others defend it as a traditional and important part of British culture.

Here are some of the key events in the history of the Glorious Twelfth:

1773: The Game Act of 1773 establishes August 12 as the opening day of the grouse shooting season.

1831: New legislation is introduced in England and Wales to overthrow a previous law which forbade the hunting of game between August and December. This effectively establishes the Glorious Twelfth as a national holiday.

1832: Queen Victoria visits Balmoral Castle in Scotland for the first time. She becomes a keen grouse shooter and helps to popularize the sport.

1914: The First World War begins. Grouse shooting is suspended for the duration of the war.

1920: Grouse shooting resumes after the end of the First World War.

1950s: The Glorious Twelfth becomes increasingly popular with the middle classes.

1970s: The environmental movement begins to criticize grouse shooting, arguing that it is cruel and unnecessary.

1990s: The number of grouse moors in the UK begins to decline.

2000s: The debate over grouse shooting continues, with animal rights activists calling for a ban on the sport.

The Origins of the Glorious Twelfth

The Glorious Twelfth has its roots in the Game Act of 1831, which regulated the hunting of game birds. The date was chosen to coincide with the peak of the red grouse breeding season, ensuring sustainable hunting practices. This tradition gained prominence over the years, attracting hunters from various parts of the world.

5 Amazing Facts About RED GROUSE

Red grouse, the iconic game bird of the British uplands, is a creature of remarkable traits. Here are five fascinating facts about these birds:

Heather Diet: 

Red grouse have a unique diet consisting mainly of heather. This diet contributes to their distinctive flavor, making them a sought-after game bird.

Camouflaged Plumage:

The plumage of red grouse serves as excellent camouflage, blending seamlessly with the moorland’s colors. This adaptation helps them evade predators and hunters alike.

Moorland Habitat:

These birds are well adapted to moorland environments, where they find both shelter and sustenance. Moorlands are carefully managed to support their populations.

Vocal Displays:

During mating season, male red grouse create a distinct “gurgling” sound, which is not only charming but also serves to establish territory and attract females.

Population Fluctuations:

Red grouse populations can vary significantly from year to year due to factors like disease and weather. This natural ebb and flow poses challenges for hunters and conservationists alike.

The Glorious Twelfth Activities

The Glorious Twelfth offers a range of activities beyond grouse shooting, catering to diverse interests. Some of these activities include:

Wildlife Photography:

Capture the beauty of the moors and the unique flora and fauna that call it home. From vibrant heather to elusive wildlife, there’s much to frame.

Guided Nature Walks:

Join experienced guides for walks through the moors, learning about the ecosystem, conservation efforts, and the rich history of the Glorious Twelfth.


Observe not only red grouse but also other bird species that inhabit the moorlands. Binoculars in hand, enthusiasts can spot a variety of avian life.

Conservation Workshops:

Participate in workshops focused on conservation and sustainable practices. Gain insights into the efforts that keep the tradition of the Glorious Twelfth alive.

Culinary Experiences:

For those who prefer gastronomy to hunting, some estates offer culinary experiences featuring game dishes, highlighting the flavors of the red grouse.

The Glorious Twelfth Quotes, Wishes & Messages

“A day steeped in history, where tradition meets the wild. Happy Glorious Twelfth to all who embrace the spirit of the hunt!” – Outdoor Enthusiast

“On this day, the call of the red grouse echoes through the moors, reminding us of the bond between man and nature.” 

“Wishing you a Glorious Twelfth filled with adventure, good company, and moments of connection with the great outdoors.”

“May your shots be true, and your spirits high on this Glorious Twelfth. Here’s to a memorable day in the heather!”

“Sending warm wishes for a successful and enjoyable red grouse shooting season. Happy Glorious Twelfth!”

“On this Glorious Twelfth, we come together to celebrate not just the hunt, but the spirit of preservation and responsible hunting practices. Let’s cherish our natural heritage.”

“As the sun rises over the moors, a new shooting season begins. May this Glorious Twelfth be filled with camaraderie, respect for nature, and moments of reflection.”

The Glorious Twelfth Dates

2023August 12Saturday
2024August 12Monday
2025August 12Tuesday
2026August 12Wednesday
2027August 12Thursday


Q1: What is the significance of the Glorious Twelfth?

The Glorious Twelfth marks the beginning of the red grouse shooting season and holds cultural, economic, and environmental significance.

Q2: Are there alternatives to grouse shooting on this day?

Yes, many estates now offer activities like wildlife photography and guided nature walks for non-hunters.

Q3: How do conservationists view the Glorious Twelfth?

Conservationists have concerns about the impact of grouse shooting on local ecosystems and advocate for sustainable hunting practices.

Q4: What is Muirburn?

Muirburn is the controlled burning of heather on grouse moors, stimulating new growth that benefits red grouse.

Q5: How has the Glorious Twelfth evolved?

The tradition has evolved to include alternative activities and a greater focus on conservation efforts.


The Glorious Twelfth – August 12 – stands as a unique and complex tradition that intertwines history, nature, culture, and controversy. It’s a day when enthusiasts come together to celebrate the outdoors, but also a day that prompts important discussions about conservation and ethics. As the tradition continues to evolve, it serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between preserving heritage and embracing change.

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