November 25, 2023

Petition launched to keep European Championships in Aberdeen; ’25 tall ships race preferred by city council

Gorgeous sunny weather brightened the 2023 European Championships at Duthie Park in Aberdeen.

Grade 3 Deeside Caledonia of Aberdeen, Scotland, has launched a petition, hoping to convince Aberdeen City Council to reconsider its decision to abandon sponsorship of the European Pipe Band Championships after successfully staging the event in 2023, later celebrating its success.

Aberdeen City Council announced that it would discontinue its one-year sponsorship, indicating that it would not prioritize the reported £80,000 RSPBA price tag in its 2024 budget.

The petition comes when the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association has updated its membership that only two championships – the World’s in Glasgow and the Scottish in Dumbarton, Scotland – have been locked in for next year.

The decision by Aberdeen City Council to not host future championships is therefore both disappointing and perplexing. – Deeside Caledonia Pipe-Major Robert Grant

“As the pipe-major of a local competitive pipe band, who secured second place at the 2023 European Championships held in Duthie Park, I have witnessed first-hand how our city thrived when we hosted this prestigious event,” Deeside Caledonia’s Robert Grant says in the petition listing. “Not only did it bring together communities and celebrate our rich cultural heritage, but it also provided significant economic benefits. The council made a profit from hosting the championships in 2023, demonstrating its potential as a recurring revenue stream for our city. The decision by Aberdeen City Council to not host future championships is therefore both disappointing and perplexing. The council’s position has been that it would rather focus on The Tall Ships Race in 2025, however, surely it would make financial sense to host more than one great event to generate even more funds to our city and provide another source of great entertainment.”

You can check out the petition by clicking here.

In addition to the European, the UK Championships, which have been held in Northern Ireland since their inception in 2014, and the British Championships, which were cancelled outright in 2023, were looking for new homes.

The organization is bound by its charitable status to stage five major championships annually.

The ramifications for the RSPBA not holding five majors are not known. The association indicated it would provide an update announcement on the situation to its members at the end of November.

The organization also said that a “Plan B” could be announced, including the possibility of using non-major “minor” local competitions for bands to accrue points for the annual aggregate Champion of Champions awards.

Unlike most associations worldwide, the RSPBA contracts all major and minor competitions to run their events as a turnkey service, providing judges, stewards, and administration. The main difference is that while the RSPBA handles entries for major championships, the local competition committee or RSPBA branch manages entries for minor events and can include whatever grades they wish. With rare exceptions, the format of the contest events adheres to the RSPBA standards set out for each grade. Typically, only results from major championships count towards Champion of Champions titles.

Minor pipe band competitions in the UK have seen dwindling pipe band entries over the last 30 years, likely due to the expense of travel, smaller and more individually powerful judging panels, and increased focus on the five majors. In recent years, the RSPBA has worked to provide the standard two piping judges, one ensemble and one drumming judge at minor contests rather than only one piping and one drumming judge.

According to the reporting of AberdeenLive, Aberdeen City Council has elected to prioritize hosting Tall Ships Races in 2025 and can’t fund the European in 2023, and presumably next year, as a result.

Inveraray & District were the Grade 1 winners at the 2023 European Championships, which also was the first time that a new, own-choice MSR event that had all bands play only tunes of four parts.

What’s your opinion? As always, we encourage readers to contribute their thoughts with our Comments feature below, where you can express opinions anonymously or, preferably, with your name.

pipes|drums is independent of any third-party association, organization or business. Unless noted, articles do not speak for any other organization or person. The only things we sell are advertising and subscriptions, and all proceeds from those sources are invested in the publication and nonprofit or charitable causes that are also for the good of piping and drumming. We believe in the fundamental tenet of free and fair speech. Without exception, every article, video or other piece aims to contribute positively to piping and drumming and foster constructive dialogue. We welcome disagreement, and without exception, we invite our readers to offer their fair comments. Any opinions expressed are those of the publication or contributing authors.




  1. I think the RSPBA have been done in by the success of the World’s in Glasgow. Let’s face it, if bands are being honest which title do they want? One of the other Champions, the Champion of Champions or being crowned the “ World Champions”? I don’t see bands committing time and effort to a number of smaller local competitions for “Champion of Champions “ points. They are after the big prize. In addition, financially strapped councils will likely not sponsor if it’s not the “ Worlds”.
    It will be interesting to see how the RSPBA can address their charitable status that requires them putting on 5 Championships. Meeting late November? Nothing forthcoming yet.



Forgotten Password?