2023 NZ Championships return to Christchurch, promotes international appeal
After being one of few major contests to take place in 2021 the 2022 New Zealand Pipe Band Championships were cancelled due to the pandemic, but the 2023 edition is a go for March 10-11 in Christchurch, often cited as one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
The event encompasses the South Pacific Pipe Band Championships, which occur every three years, alternating between New Zealand and Australia, and held in conjunction with each country’s national championship.
The Royal New Zealand Pipe Bands’ Association is actively courting bands from outside of the country to consider making the trip.
“Christchurch was selected as the location for this championship not only for its fantastic venues and array of hospitality options, but it is one of New Zealand’s most important international hubs and makes travel to the Garden City much more attractive for many bands,” RNZPBA President Iain Blakely said in a statement. “This is the perfect opportunity for bands around the globe to come to New Zealand and experience the very best we have to offer.”
The organization even provided current prices for return airfare from prominent piping and drumming locations: Vancouver: NZD$1,500 (about CAD$1,300); Glasgow NZD$2400 (£1,250); and Melbourne: NZD$700 (AUD$640).
The event occurs at the end of New Zealand’s summer, but in the off-season for pipers and drummers in the northern hemisphere, and has traditionally attracted guest players to compete with New Zealand bands.
The 2021 New Zealand Pipe Band Championships, held in Hastings in March of that year while international travel restrictions were in place, saw few if any “fly-in” players participate, yet the competitions showcased a high standard at every level, with the Grade 1 contest featuring six bands, Canterbury Caledonian Society ultimately taking the big prize.
The event was broadcast live to a large and appreciative worldwide audience who had been starved of pipe band competition for 18 months.
The Royal New Zealand Pipe Bands’ Association has seen refreshed leadership with Blakely, who discussed the imperative for his and the world’s piping and drumming associations to be open and ready to change in an interview with pipes|drums in December 2021.
Anyone looking for more information on the event should contact the RNZPBA Secretary Clare Fraser.
Few non-UK and Irish bands have indicated that they plan to attend this year’s World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow in August, hesitant to commit to the investment while uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
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