A new two-day festival of piping, drumming and Celtic arts has been created in Alberta, marking the first weekend-long event the region has seen on its Highland games schedule. The Northern Canadian Championships will take place July 9-10 this year at Fort Edmonton Park in Edmonton, the sixth contest on the Alberta Society of Pipers & Drummers’ schedule of events.
“This will be the the first two-day festival, extending beyond the typical pipe band competition,” said Ross Wilson of the ASPD. ” Within Alberta games are typically confined to one-day events, and usually limited to traditional pipe band competitions, meaning solo piping and drumming events and pipe band events. From our perspective the festival will represent a very different undertaking with respect to promoting the Highland arts, and should help to illustrate how diverse they are.”
In addition to piping, drumming and pipe band competitions, the festival will place equal emphasis on non-competitive events, hoping to attract a wider audience. The “Celtic gathering and festival weekend” is a joint effort between the Celtic Gathering Foundation and Fort Edmonton Park.
Wilson said that the first-ever two-day event for Alberta will also include a string of live performances on the Saturday night by Celtic rock bands, folk acts and pipe bands “performing outside of the traditional competition setting making it much more of ‘music festival’ atmosphere. From our perspective the festival will represent a very different undertaking with respect to promoting the Highland arts, and should help to illustrate how diverse they are.”
The addition of the event comes at a time when many Canadian Highland games are struggling to attract new audiences. Some have moved away from working with piping and drumming associations due to the expense and perceived low return on investment.
The schedule of ASPD 2011 competitions:
Ogden Legion Indoor Competition May 14th
Red Deer Highland Games, June 25th
Edmonton Scottish Society Highland Gathering, June 26th
Northern Canadian Pipe Band Championships, July 9th
Foothills Highland Games, August 27th
Calgary Highland Games, September 3rd
Canmore Highland Games, September 4th