March 19, 2023

RSPBA cancels Highland Dancing Championship at World’s

[Photo Kim Traynor, Creative Commons]
The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association has informed the Royal Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing that the “RSPBA Highland Dancing Championship” held in conjunction with the World Pipe Band Championships has been cancelled.

In a memo to Elizabeth Gollan, Director of Administration at Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing, RSPBA chief executive Colin Mulhern chalked up the decision to “budgetary pressures” and the organization not having “the means to fulfill the requirements of the RSOBHD.”

While the RSPBA does not administer the Highland dancing competition, the event is traditionally a part of the World Pipe Band Championships overall and has been a significant attraction for the event, but held far away from the pipe band competitions.

According to the RSOBHD’s calendar, there are no Highland dancing events scheduled for the other three RSPBA major championships.

It is not known how the Highland dancing relates to the £256,721 income that the RSPBA reported were collected from the staging of the 2022 World Pipe Band Championships. The association reported World’s expenditures of £155,215, leaving a profit of more than £100,000. Two of the other four major championships showed a small gain for the organization, the other two majors operating at a relatively small loss.

The organization’s audited 2022 financial report states £3,678 in “Dancers expenses” and no other mention of Highland dancing finances.

The RSPBA reported at its annual general meeting that it has a cash liquidity of £323,595, following a return to a more familiar competition season after a two-year pandemic-induced shutdown that paralyzed most of the pipe band world.

While the World Pipe Band Championships are not strictly speaking a “Highland games,” Highland dancing competitions are generally considered as much a staple at Highland games as piping and drumming and heavy athletics. The World Highland Dancing Championships take place at the Cowal Highland Gathering in Dunoon, Scotland.

The Cowal Gathering was for many years considered the de facto World Pipe Band Championships until 1947 when the then Scottish Pipe Band Association elected to create a formal World Championship, with the aim to stage the event at a different location in the UK each year.

The World’s has been held in Glasgow every year since 1986. Cowal remained one of the five major pipe band championships that the RSPBA is mandated to hold annually, but was replaced by the UK Championships in 2014. Cowal continues as a “minor” pipe band competition.

At publication time, the representatives from the RSPBA, RSBOHD and Glasgow Life, the group that runs the World Pipe Band Championships overall, had not responded to inquiries.



  1. This is tragic, as dance music should be 1/3 or more of a piper’s repertoire. Many of the great composers were either accomplished dancers or dance teachers. Look at SFU’s retired Terry Lee, who was known as an outstanding dancer, or John MacColl another award winning dancer whose tunes shine in every competition. Not only does this take away the interest in this event by the fairer sex, it also starts it on the path to being just another sad drink-fest. Aye, Matt Turnbull, Bagad Cap-Caval



Forgotten Password?