February 01, 2021

Maxville 2021 officially cancelled

The 2021 Glengarry Highland Games, commonly known as “Maxville” by pipers and drummers, was officially cancelled at a meeting of the games’ organizing committee on January 30th.

It is the second consecutive year that the event, which hosts the North American Pipe Band Championships and various top-flight solo competitions, won’t take place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I never thought we would have to make this decision two years in a row, but we do not have a choice,” Glengarry Highland Games President Eric Metcalfe said in a statement. “After much discussion, all are in agreement that this year’s 2021 Games are not going to happen.”

The event had been planned for July 30-31 in the farming community of Maxville, Ontario. With a population of only slightly more than 800, Maxville explodes in normal times to host more than 20,000 visitors who take in the piping, drumming, pipe band, athletics and Highland dancing competitions and performances. The Prime Minister of Canada is a frequent attendee.

The Glengarry Highland Games is the biggest event of its kind in North America and, by sheer numbers of events and contestants, the biggest single piping and drumming competition in the world.

The Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario had earlier indicated that it was not anticipating any outdoor in-person Highland games taking place in 2021, and revealed at its annual general meeting that the Kingsville Highland Games had already been cancelled.

Even with vaccines, the process of administering them is complicated, meaning that there is not enough assurance of safe “herd immunity” by mid-summer in Ontario. Canada and the province of Ontario in particular have struggled with vaccination programs. The country’s main supplier, Pfizer, revealed in January that it would be unable to supply any vaccines while the company retools its plant in Belgium.

Pipe bands in Canada and most of North America have been unable to practice in-person since March 2020. With bands being for all purposes shut down, most will need months to return to competing standard once it is declared safe to practice together.

The last winner of the North American Pipe Band Championship was the Grade 1 City of Dunedin of Dunedin, Florida, in 2019.

Until 2020, the Glengarry Highland Games had been held every year since 1948.

The Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario, the piping and drumming association that sanctions competitions at the event, has been working to provide online solo competitions for its members.



2020 Maxville officially nixed

City of Dunedin: 2019 North American Champions




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