February 29, 2008

World’s to remain in Glasgow through 2012

The RSPBA has decided to keep the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, despite a strong bid from the city of Belfast, according to sources. The two cities competed for the competition, which has been held in Glasgow since 1985, when the contest moved to Hamilton, after several years in Glasgow.

The deal reportedly is for the years 2010-’12, with 2008-’09 already locked up for Glasgow. Published reports say that the event alone will generate £10 million for the Glasgow over the three years.

The formal bidding process was a first apparently for the RSPBA, which has controlled the World’s since 1947. Details of the deal were not disclosed, and the association had not been widely divulged, if at all, that it was entertaining bids from other cities.

For the past five years the popularity of the World Pipe Band Championships has been hugely augmented and complemented by the increasingly popular Piping Live! Festival, which takes advantage of the influx of visitors to Glasgow during the week.

The RSPBA had not yet responded to inquiries from pipes|drums at the time of publication.


  1. Coleman, Please stop talking mince. We have been happily going over to N Ireland with regularity since Lisburn 1994 (at the height of the troubles, standing right next to the RUC band at the march past for what it’s worth, enough to make some people nervous). We’ve happily gone to Belgium in the recent past. We’ll go wherever the competition takes us. If you’re that desperate for it to change, stop bleating and do something about it. It’s always the Scottish bands’ fault isn’t it? I long for the day a major is held in N America, it’ll fun to reciprocate what the N American bands have been doing for years. I for one intend to walk about central Toronto dressed head to foot in band merchandise, fingering band tunes in a visibly self conscious fashion whilst uttering the phrase good job” over and over. Who’s with me? Yours

  2. I have to agree with the brits here, moving the worlds ain’t gonna happen. Think of it in this light, the Worlds represents the top stage or venue for Pipe Band Competition, just like Carnagie hall represents the top venue for classical orchastra performances. You don’t move the venue, it has far too much heritage / significance to the event that it is part of the thrill of being at the event. North America already has a champiosnhip at Maxville and frankly it is a great venue / games that is both well attended by spectators and bands alike. Why not introduce Maxville as a major? Then there would be a chance for bands from Canada, USA and the southern Hemisphere to pre-qualify for the worlds. It is a couple of weeks prior to the worlds, so southern hemisphere bands could make a stop en route to the worlds, get a play in and go on to the worlds, then if they win they are qualified otherwise they go into it with one more real” play under their belts. Honestly the flight from Toronto to Scotland is cheap compared to going from anywhere West of Ontario

  3. Wow, has this caught some attention, and while I have already posted a comment I have slightly different thoughts after discussing this last night with some band mates. 1. It’s taken a very long time for the Worlds to become the production it is. The way it has changedin the last 5 years is amazing in it self! You would be very hard pressed to be able to have the Worlds bring in the general public and all the bands in your first year hosting a event of that magnitude. While you may bring in all the bands, the public would not ackownledge it in the states or in Canada for that matter the same way. I’ve been around enough games here to say that the general population of Scotland might be the most educated about pipes and therefore is a joy to sit next to in the stands while watching the Gr. !’s 2. After much thought, Im cool with it never leaving Scotland. Maybe the could switch up between the major cities

  4. If there’s a will there’s a way. Why is it everyone thinks the standard of living in Scotland is so much less than it is in Canada NZ or in the the USA? What makes people assume that there’s no way” the Scottish bands can afford to make an overseas trip? UK bands have this fanciful idea that overseas bands have endless wads of cash. No

  5. From what I can see, it would be fair if the World Pipe Band Championships alternated between Glasgow and a different International venue every fourth year. Obviously this would involve a great deal of forward planning, but that is not to say that it can’t be done. Glasgow is a beautfiul city which embraces and welcomes the World Pipe Band Championships every year. This year saw a vast improvement in terms of big screens and tv coverage, and there is little doubt that efforts are being made to improve the experience. It takes a lot of planning and organisation to put on an event of this kind and it would be nice if there was some thanks” put forward

  6. Bert…Firstly, please note I use my full name and don’t hide behind any pseudonyms. Never have, never will. Secondly, I thought the purpose of posting comments was to express one’s opinion. I your response to my comments (which, by the way, were NOT directed at anyone in particular) a bit over the top. If everyone had to be fearful of getting their head or country bitten off as you did with me on both counts, there will be no freedom of expressing one’s ideas. I do not have to state any sort of credentials. I don’t waste time bs’ing people and don’t have time to deal with those who seem to want to disparage an opinion. I am just sorry there was not anyone willing to stick their neck out and say Canada did something much bigger and much better than Scotland. That was my opinion and that remains my opinion. As far as the US doing” things

  7. I think its high time something was done about the Worlds venue. I’d love to see the worlds go to Belfast for 2 years, then maybe Ontario for 2 years, then maybe back to Glasgow. Why not ? The problem is that most of the Scottish bands won’t travel – at least the majority of them (I’m talking Grade1 bands). You wouldn’t beleive the amount of b1tching and moaning I had to listen to when certain bands went to Ireland for the European’s. I can only imagine the reaction if they were told that they had to fly to Canada to compete in the worlds. How many times have Scottish bands won their respective grades over the last 10 years ? I wonder if the split between Scottish and non-Scottish champions is about 50/50 ? Interesting to see!

  8. I’d be happy to travel for the Worlds as long as there some notice to do so. I know lots of other bands that would be willing to do so as well. Tarring all us Scottish bands with the same brush isn’t very fair. It seems in this case that the RSPBA was willing to move the Worlds but the bid from Belfast didn’t match that of Glasgow. So they were quite right in their decision to keep it in Glasgow.

  9. well, how about sometime in the not-too-far future we just get everyone out to LA or some other cool Cali city. awesome weather, radical babes, the works. be nice to have perfect weather for the worlds, if only one time

  10. As a member of an over seas band that makes fairly regular stops at the worlds(every other year), and one that frequents Ireland on most of those years as well, mainly the Belfast area. I can say, that while it may have looked attractive to host the Worlds in a new venue, and Belfast is an amazing city full of new growth, that there are many areas to consider when switching something this large. One of the big ones would be lodging. Glasgow has so many connections that they have worked hard to build for the weeks surrounding the worlds. Strathclyde is usually booked by Oct, Nov. And then from there the other Universities and hotels in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Stirling also fill up. All three of these cities are filled with some of the most well known sites and tourist attractions in the world. Not to say that Ireland itself doesn’t have amazing sites or history, but much of it out side Dublin is relatively unknown to the common person. While almost everyone knows of the castles, not a lot of people know of the Giants Causeway. So take in mind the date of 2012 is really not very far away but in the same sense this should give Belfast or any other city, plenty of time to really put together a plan of action for hosting what is one of Glasgows biggest economic boost of the year.

  11. True enough but who doesn’t know someone in a band that has been robbed while staying at Strathclyde or one of the other halls of residence? And Glasgow is dangerous at night. I would enjoy going somewhere else for a change to be honest.

  12. I ask this is the world boomerang championship held in norway? at ballymena last year there were just over a hundred bands on the day which did shock me as we are constantly reminded by the irish bands of the 100 registered bands from northern ireland. so I ask whom is it that wont travel?. I do agree that every one should have a crack at holding the worlds but ballymena had about 5000 spectators some bands were playing in there arena with no one even watching them. Lets go abroad good weather weekend contest and supported massively by the public bring on the states.

  13. I love travelling with the band, but i think ballymena last year was exactly why the worlds should stay in Glasgow. I thought it was a poor venue, poorly attended and the atmosphere for a major championship was abysmal. I’m not saying for a minute that other venues, towns, cities would offer the same, but Glasgow is home to the RSPBA, and the World Championships. We don’t see the world series Baseball travelling, infact…all the teams are American! I do understand bands from the u.s, Canada, Australia even Ireland keen to host the Worlds, but in reality…it aint going to happen. Over 250 bands attend the Worlds in Glasgow, would you have the same attendance elsewhere? Can you imagine the Worlds in Toronto with no Stathclyde Police, FMM or Shotts? It’s a possibility, and the reason why the RSPBA won’t allow the Worlds to travel overseas. The attendance in Belgium a few years ago was testament to that. Ireland will be as far as i can ever see it going, and it will take a huge offer to prise it away from Glasgow. 2012 is not that far away, but i bet my last buck 2013 will be in Glasgow.

  14. Across the Irish Sea : Colman, I think its unfair to tar everybody with the same brush. I know guys in Scotland who would like to travel (most of which are in bands with sponsorship) as well as people who wouldn’t like to travel. There are arguments for both cases. I too would love to see the worlds moving out of Glasgow. A few reasons for this (no disrespect to Glaswegians intended): Its dirty, its rough, theres nothing to do in the place when you take piping out of the equation & the accommodation is not up to scratch. Sure, there is no shortage of hotels, universities and B&B’s….. but how many people would go back to those same places on a weekend break in Glasgow? I see no reason for Dublin, London or even Belfast hosting the worlds. All locations have any amount of accommodation, public transport links & the infrastructure. On the other hand, it is Scottish music we’re playing and Glasgow is the home of the RSPBA. Why should they move ? Now more than ever, the Worlds is a festival with Piping Live! & the Pre-Worlds concert being the main events in the week leading up to the main event. This is a major money machine for piping suppliers, manufacturers and people in the business in general, not to mention Glasgow – which is not exactly appealing to the common tourist! Coming from Ireland, I accept that I will have to travel to Scotland at least 4 times every Summer – Dumbarton, Worlds, Cowal & the Scottish. Every flight is approx £100 return, throw in another £120 for two nights accom – with an extra 2/3 nights for the worlds. Add spending money onto that and your looking at a hefty bill come the end of August. Anything from £1500 – £2000 every year. Bangor was not an ideal location for a major, but at least it gives the Scots an idea of what we go through when we turn up at Cowal ! Its very disheartening to arrive there and have to play with people running around the field and some idiot on a microphone shouting hammer results. At least you were not subjected to that in Bangor. Credit has to be given to the RSPBA for moving the Europeans around (Belgium, Bangor & Birmingham this year). Hopefully this trend continues.

  15. Hi Kev. I think it was ballymena not Bangor! It is a difficult situation but i would love to see it move around. I agree that Glasgow probably have a strong hold due to the events leading up to the Worlds. Why has there never been a major in Edinburgh? Is this to do with sponsorship?

  16. The worlds should definitely move every year. There are bands such as the Vale of Atholl, Scottish Power, Shotts etc who have great sponsorship deals and are probably in a much better financial position to travel internationally to compete than many of the North American bands, and especially in comparison to the Southern Hemisphere bands who can’t get decent sponsorship deals at all! Take Shotts traveling to Florida a few weeks back. They can afford to just go over there and play at a contest that is not even a major. It costs the Average Southern Hemisphere band 60,000 pounds sterling to go to the worlds every year. The Canadian bands pay around 30,000. It would be nice to be able to go to the worlds, not jet-lagged, not completely broke, and having spent my saturday and sundays practicing instead of at band fundraiser BBQ’s etc.. That is why every other world series changes venues every year. (apart from baseball apparently, cause all competing teams are from the same country). What would happen if the Olympics were in the US every time.. you’d see a lot more US gold medals because of the home crowd, and home ground advantage. Not to mention the qualifying rounds at the worlds which are particularly beneficial to bands from the UK and Ireland what with all the majors being held there and pre-qualification and all. If they won’t move the worlds they should at least move the majors. One in North America, one in Ireland, one in Australia/New Zealand and keep Cowal and the Worlds in Scotland. There needs to be a complete restructure.. that would see a more fair and more equally represented world pipe band championship that would truly show who the world’s best are, not that Field Marshall weren’t totally awesome, but it’s much easier for UK bands.

  17. Robert, shotts cannot afford to just fly over and play at a contest in florida. The trip was financed by the Scottish American society in Central Florida, as was SFU’s trip there last year. Many believe Shotts, The Vale, SFU and other top flight bands have the means for extavagant trips, and it’s really not the case. The sponsorships these bands have are not the mega bucks many would like to believe.

  18. Stuart, I appologise. I didn’t know that about the Florida games, and probably shouldn’t have brought it up. What I did say, is that those bands are in a much better position than other bands of lower profiles, what with cd sales, concerts, sponsorship etc… [Unacceptable comment deleted.]

  19. It will stay in Glasgow. It should continue to be Scotland – why wouldn’t you want to be in Scotland over that period? Add the Piping Live and Glasgow’s just fantastic, warts and all. What I would like is a way for southern hemisphere grade 1 bands to be able to pre-qualify. Its barely worthwhile spending so much money to probably play once in the prelims (none of the bands from Australasia go every year because of the cost, which makes it very difficult to pre-qualifying under present rules). Even if you get through the prelims, the extra playing is probably a disadvantage. The standard of the Southern Hemisphere bands indicates that pre-qualifying one, maybe two, Grade 1 bands is justified. Not asking for special favours, but a fair crack of the whip and a fair suck of the sav.

  20. Robert, [comment edited] The point of all these comments is on the Worlds staying in Glasgow, and how some of us think this is a good thing, and how some of us think the event should move from time to time. To me, the obvious reason the Worlds won’t go overseas is because you would see very few of the bands that attend the event now, making the trip. Yeah, the majority of Grade 1, Half of grade 2, a few grade 3, a few grade 4 and maybe a few juvenile bands. Would the Grade 5 bands across the atlantic be allowed to compete? Would the RSPBA add another lower Grade? To me, the contest as a whole would be a diluted version of what we have now. If it aint broken, don’t fix it. Stuart

  21. The world pipe band championships will without doubt stay in the U.K. Purely because of economics and the fact that although many foreign bands do make a great effort to attend, the U.K. bands greatly out number the visitors. Scotland’s tradition with respect to piping and drumming and the great strides the various organizations have made available to the world is invaluable. We have to be realistic and practical, not foolish and insensitive. There will always be those who will never be pleased but there are many who enjoy the experience and atmosphere of attending the world’s pipe band chapionships on it’s own home turf.

  22. Does anyone else remember the very first CNE in Toronto in 1972? I was there. It was a wonderful two day contest with entertainment in the evening. Back then, the World’s was held in June and the top five or so prizewinning bands from that contest were flown in. I don’t know who paid for all of this but it was a truly unique wonderful experience! I have also been to Glasgow Green a few times in the recent past… For what it is worth, in my opinion there is absolutely NO comparison between the atmosphere, excitement, enthusiasm, crowd support, etc. etc. between the two venues. TORONTO WAS SUPERIOR IN EVERY WAY. And, yes, I state that as a true blue American. This change of venue thing has nothing to do with Scottish bands or overseas bands. It has nothing to do with tradition. It is all about money and how much goes to the RSPBA. They get paid a hefty sum to run the contest. (gate receipts go to the city…) This operating fee (along with the CD profits) keeps the RSPBA in business. I guess I will stop right there before I get myself into too much trouble…;>(

  23. Al, your never right but your wrong again. I was playing in a grade one band attending the 1972 CNE gathering. My band was one of about 18 grade one bands that were flown out from Scotland and we stayed at the York university residances. Every grade one band was invited and the top six grade two bands from Scotland were also included. As a true blooded Scot with a pedigree I disagree with you that tradition means something as does St. Andrews is to golf. Far to often we hear the belly aching of how it should be but rarely do we see anybody with the guts or know how to do it and even more especially in your neck of the woods.

  24. Bert, All I can say is your response to my posting makes no sense whatsoever. My whole point was and is money is what this whole thing is about. If what you seem to be alluding to were true, offers to hold the World’s any place but in Scotland would not be entertained. You are wrong about the bands flown over from Scotland. I am fairly certain it was the top SIX prize winning bands from each of the four grades. NOT just grade 1 & 2 Scottish bands. Also, I don’t seem to recall seeing any acrobats or whatever they were floating around in balloons over the contest field at the CNE like I did at Glasgow Green a few years ago. Now, that is what I call a tradition” we should all adhere to…”

  25. Well said Phil. While there’s no doubt that North America could stage a magnificent and highly profitable event, it would be unlikely to engender the atmosphere of Glasgow. Scotland really is the ‘heart of piping and the pipe band world’ and, although I’m a 4th generation Kiwi, I have an eerie feeling of having come home when I visit Scotland. Having said that, Andy’s suggestion of moving the Worlds elsewhere during Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games year would be a way of putting the whole question to the test. It’s still 6 years away so there’s plenty of time for lobbying and preparation. But IMHO a far more important matter is the need to change the G1 qualification rules to eliminate the present bias favouring the Scottish bands. Being able to qualify by winning a Scottish Major (whether it be titled British, European or whatever) heavily tilts the playing field against overseas bands. Prequalifying the top bands is an irony in itself because they are the very bands which don’t need a free ride. It seems axiomatic to me that justice requires that every band should have to go through the same hoops.

  26. Al, your entitled to your opinion but with respect to who was there i.e. grade one bands, I am not wrong. Here is a list of the bands: Strathclyde, Edinburgh, Shott’s & Dykehead, Red Hackle, Polkemmet, Bilston Glen, Musselburgh, Clan MacRae Society, BP Grangemouth, Muirhead & Son, Kelty & Blairadam, Invergordon Distillery, Glasgow Skye, Bucksburn and I may have left a few out.

  27. pipeband members might like to know that Belfast is hosting the World Police and Fire games in 2012 ,so,depending on the success of this event, , the Worlds could follow.Only a thought!!

  28. How dare they! Everyone knows that cavemen discovered fire, so therefore that World Championship should always be held in a cave. It just wouldn’t feel right having it anywhere else. 😉



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