Cowal hopes to regain appeal
The Cowal Pipe Band Championships in Dunoon, Scotland, is hoping to recreate the magic that it once possessed on the Scottish games circuit. Once the home of the unofficial World Championships, Cowal has lost luster with competitors in the last 20 years, with the venue having trouble accommodating the increasing number of competing bands.
Cowal Games will be held this year August 23-25, with the Cowal Pipe Band Championships, one of the RSPBA’s five major championships, on the Saturday. Organizers have announced that a new “Ceilidh Tent” will be available on the Saturday evening for the first time in the event’s 113 year history. The Ceilidh Tent will feature performance from Celtic folk musicians.
The event has also announced changes to its stadium layout that promise to allow listeners to get closer to competing pipe bands. Cowal had built a reputation for not accommodating would-be listeners, with the world’s top bands competing well away from the crowds.
Organizers have also indicated that pipe bands can compete in the “Most Entertaining Pipe Band” event, with both musical ability and “entertainment value” being assessed by judges.
“As the world’s largest Highland games, it’s really important for us to move forward and listen to our audience and I can’t wait to see what they think of the improved Cowal Highland Gathering,” Cowal Gathering Manager Malcolm Barclay said.
The solo piping events will continue to be held on the Friday, with no apparent changes.
The Cowal Pipe Band Championships were considered by most bands to be the ultimate prize in the pipe band world, but the stature of the event gradually declined after the Scottish Pipe Band Association decided to hold an annual official World Pipe Band Championship in 1947, with an aim to ensure that the event would move to a different location each year. Except for 1985 when the event was held in Hamilton, Scotland, the World’s has been held in Glasgow every year since 1981.
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