The World Pipe Band Championships is one of the most prestigious piping competitions in the world. With all of the extra attractions, it can be fun for the entire family!
If you think of Scotland, you probably imagine rolling green landscapes, centuries-old castles, and bagpipe players in tartan kilts. Kilts are the national dress bagpipes the national instrument; as such, they hold an important place in Scottish history. This is brought to the fore in the annual World Pipe Band Championships, which is exactly what it sounds like. Pipe players from all over the world come to Scotland every August, since 1930, to compete for the title. It is held in association with the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and usually takes place in the Glasgow Green. The park is located on the east end of the city of Glasgow, on the northern bank of the River Clyde. Dating back to the 15th century, the Glasgow Green is the oldest park in the city. This year, the Worlds is being held on August 12th and 13th. Before you actually attend or watch the competition, however, you may be wondering what exactly it is. We’ve gathered the most important information for you below!
About the Bands
Pipe bands from all over the word come to compete in the Worlds, and can be of several grades. The newest players compete as Novice Juveniles, a grade for children under 18 years of age. While there is no maximum, there is a minimum number of people who can perform in a pipe band, which depends on the grade they are performing in. Additionally, although it might be the stereotypical image, not all bands wear tartan and kilts. The dress code only indicates that they should be dressed uniformly, which may include their country’s national dress.
Generally, all bands must perform an ‘MSR’ and a Medley. And MSR is a set comprising of 3 traditional tunes: a March, a Strathspey, and a Reel. The Medley is a piece that showcases the band’s innovation and creativity, as each plays a unique piece that they have composed themselves. Additionally, when competing, the bands perform in circular formations, facing inwards. The competition is arbitrated by 4 judges: one who judges the entire ensemble, one who focuses on the drums, and two who pay close attention to the pipers. All judges are experienced musicians who have been certified by the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association.
The competition is not only for bands, however. There is also one for solo performs, the esteemed Drum Major competition. In this, competitors are judged on their dress and bearing in addition to their musical aptitude.
The Worlds concludes with a March Past, where every band forms a procession to salute The World’s Chieftain. There is also the awesome spectacle of every single pipe in the competition performing in harmony!
You might be wondering what else there is to do at a piping competition. On Saturday, the program includes a Scottish Food Festival that showcases local produce and cuisine. There is also The World Highland Games competition and the World Highland Dancing Championships. Additionally, the Kid’s Zone includes face painting, gaming consoles, arts and crafts, sports, a play bus, and storytelling.