May 09, 2024

Starter poised to pull trigger on 2024 pipe band season

Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia drummers prepping for competition at the 2023 Gourock Highland Games.

It’s an annual right of passage for the pipe band world: the official start of the outdoor competition season in the UK.

This Sunday, things will get underway at Banchory and Gourock as bands finally air their new music, sound, and personnel to begin what is sure to be another exciting summer of heated and fun competition.

Banchory, near Aberdeen in the north of Scotland, is the smaller of the two events. The only Grade 1 band entered is Police Scotland Fife, competing against challengers Buchan Peterson and Portlethen & District, both playing up from Grade 2. About 25 bands are entered across all grades.

The larger event is at Gourock, just west of Glasgow. The contest should see a five-band Grade 1 event, all bands graded as such:

  • Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia
  • Johnstone
  • Police Scotland & Federation
  • ScottishPower
  • Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia

It will be the first event since reigning World Champions Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia took the title at Glasgow Green last August. Also, Gourock will be the first competition for Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia with new Leading-Drummer Grant Cassidy, and ScottishPower will debut a largely renovated mid-section.

The Grade 2 competition has a dozen entries, and overall, about 40 bands are entered across the grades, including the Alma College Pipe Band from Michigan in Grade 4A. This is a rare instance of a North American band venturing to a small contest that does not coincide with the World Championships.

The relatively stronger entry for both small competitions is a positive sign that non-major championships might enjoy a resurgence in popularity.

The weather forecast for both Banchory and Gourock is promising: about 21 degrees and pure sunshine.

The weekend is a precursor to the first of five major competitions in 2024, the UK Championships, which will be staged in Bangor, Northern Ireland, just seven days later, on May 18th. 76 bands are entered, including the full complement of 10 UK- and Ireland-based Grade 1 groups.

The UK Championships are being managed primarily by the RSPBA’s Northern Ireland branch, which played a central role in securing the event when the parent organization was searching to provide a full slate of majors for its members.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for results and news from these and other events throughout the 2024 season.






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