The world’s biggest week of piping gets underway today, and for all eyes will be back on Glasgow this summer as 50,000 music fans, families and tourists head to the city to enjoy the 200 events and 8,000 performers that make up Piping Live! Glasgow International Piping Festival and The World Pipe Band Championships, taking place from 10-16 August.
Defending their title are the members of Lisburn’s Field Marshall Montgomery Band, which have claimed the title a record 10 times, and is hoping to continue its 2014 triumph with another win. The Grade1 Pipe Band, with members ranging in age from 16 to 53, aims to bring the title back to Northern Ireland to add to its total of more than 60 major championships in their 70-year history.
Speaking at the start of the week-long series of events, Pipe Major Richard Parkes MBE said the World Championships were the highlight of the piping year.
“We always look forward to coming to Glasgow, the home of the Pipe Band Championships and an outstanding venue for this competition. While our primary reason for being here is to retain the World Champion Title, of which we are incredibly proud, the welcome afforded to us and the rest of the bands from around the world is something we all look forward to and enjoy immensely.”
A massive 20% of the competitors at this year’s Championship are from Ireland – 13% of those from Northern Ireland – proving the popularity of the music across the Irish Sea.
Piping Live! Glasgow International Piping Festival is the biggest festival of its kind in the and the week-long celebrations will see over 200 events take place in various venues across the city from August 10 – 16. In exciting news for 2015, the festival will return to George Square after a two-year absence from the space. Musicians will perform in the square daily and the festival will bring the best pipers and musicians into the heart of the city. As well as the annual Pipe Idol competition and International Quartets competition there will also be special concerts on the Thursday and Friday night of the festival, featuring unique and never seen-before collaborations between musicians from Piping Live! and abroad. The festival will also celebrate Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink with a new ‘Pipers Market’ in George Square, showcasing the very best of fresh, local, Scottish produce.
Piping Live! boasts a diverse programme and is famed for its evening concerts, which not only showcase the best pipers and pipe bands from across the globe but also celebrate multi-instrument traditional musicians and bands including the Scott Wood Band, Finlay MacDonald and Chris Stout, Fred Morrison and Borja Baragano, who are all performing at this year’s festival.
Roddy MacLeod, Festival Director of Piping Live! said: “It’s year 12 of Piping Live! and the festival continues to grow. We annually attract tens of thousands of people to the city and last year Piping Live! had an economic impact of almost £2 million to the city – so you could say we’re the summers main attraction. The festival programme for 2015 is hugely diverse – whether you are looking for a family day out, are a seasoned piping or traditional music fan – Piping Live! has something for you.”
The World Pipe Band Championships will return to the picturesque Glasgow Green on 14th-15th August, where the best pipers and drummers from across the world will congregate for the ultimate competition. ‘The Worlds’, as they are affectionately known, have been associated with Glasgow for more than 60 years and will see around 220 bands compete across the two days. It will be an exciting competition as Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band of Belfast will be fiercely defending their crown – having won the title the last four years in a row. The Grade 1 qualifiers take place on Friday 14th August with the full competition will being held on Saturday 15th August.
The Worlds offer a great family day out, with children under 5 gaining free entry, a special children’s zone, Highland Dancing, Highland Games and a variety of food and drink on offer.
Ian Embelton, Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, said: “The World Pipe Band Championships have always been a terrific mix of passionate competition and family fun, and this year looks to be better than ever. It’s a unique event and a terrific platform to celebrate the vast pipe band talent from across the world.
“We can’t wait to welcome music lovers and families back to the city to enjoy the sheer hard work all our participants go through to clinch the ultimate prize in pipe band music.”
Scott Taylor, Chief Executive of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “Glasgow is home to an enviable, diverse and ever-growing programme of annual major events and festivals. Piping Live! and the World Pipe Band Championships are firmly at the heart of Glasgow’s cultural calendar every August, offering thousands of piping fans from across the UK and overseas the chance to experience a spectacular week of superb traditional Scottish music and culture. Moreover, both events generate significant economic benefit for the city and their continuing popularity reinforces Glasgow’s reputation for successfully hosting major international events.”