Published: April 27, 2021

World’s 2022 could be an international blockbuster

After both the 2020 and 2021 World Pipe Band Championships had to be canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, if a 2022 World’s is held it could be an all-time record-setting entry from bands around the globe champing at the bit to get back at it.

While most pipe band coffers have been depleted due to the lack of paid performances, prize money and other sources of income, many band members have saved money that would have normally gone to support their expensive piping and drumming addicti . . . er, hobby.

pipes|drums reached out to non-UK Grade 1 and Grade 2 bands that have competed at the World’s in the recent past, and many have said that, at this point, they are at least tentatively planning to attend the 2022 World Championships.

Grade 1

  • 78th Fraser Highlanders (Canada)
  • Canterbury Caledonian (New Zealand)
  • City of Dunedin (USA)
  • Manawatu Scottish (New Zealand)
  • Simon Fraser University (Canada)
  • St. Thomas Alumni (USA)

Assuming and hoping that the 13 UK- and Ireland-based Grade 1 bands get out in 2022, we could see at least 19 playing for the big prize. That would be a full third of the entry by bands located outside of Great Britain and Ireland. What’s more, the event would be the long-awaited debuts in Grade 1 at the World’s by City of Dunedin, Northern Ireland’s Closkelt, and St. Thomas Alumni after two cancelled years.

Grade 2

  • City of Regina (Canada)
  • Great Lakes (USA)
  • Hawthorn (Australia)
  • LA Scots (USA)
  • MacMillan (USA)
  • North Stratton (Canada)
  • Peel Regional Police (Canada)
  • Pipeband Club (Australia)
  • Portland Metro (USA)
  • Rocky Mountain (Canada)
  • Worcester Kiltie (USA)

By our count, there are 15 UK-based Grade 2 bands, so it could be a contest of 26, with 11 international bands comprising a record 40% or more of the field.

When we hear from more, we’ll update the lists.

The unmitigated joy of winning a World Championship, as demonstrated here by Inveraray & District piper Ross Miller at the 2019 event, will eventually return. [Photo Alister Sinclair]
It’s rarely easy for any non-UK band to get to Glasgow. Travel can often mean layovers in one or two countries, and even by August 2022 international travel could still be complicated.

We’re planning for a Worlds in 2022. I’m sure other bands in all grades are hopeful for the opportunity to perform. – 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe-Major Doug MacRae

Stuart McKenzie, pipe-major of the Grade 1 Manawatu Scottish of New Zealand, says, “We would dearly like to attend, but it is dependent on a number of variables that you are keenly aware of. We need to lock the decision in early, so there will need to be some rapid changes in the global Covid response and infection trends, and government decision making.”

“Yes, we’re planning for a Worlds in 2022,” 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe-Major Doug MacRae comments, and his band has not missed a World’s since 1983. “I’m sure other bands in all grades are hopeful for the opportunity to perform.”

We’ve had a couple of years of little to no expenses, and have a bit of money in the bank to help offset the significant costs it will take to get to Scotland for members, so I’m optimistic that we’ll make it over in 2022. – Grade 2 Rocky Mountain Pipe Band Pipe-Major Sean Somers

“I do think we’ll plan on going in 2022, assuming it’s still a thing,” says Pipe-Major Sean Somers of Calgary-based Grade 2 Rocky Mountain. “My hope is that after a couple of seasons off, band members are rested, fired-up and keen to get back at it in a big way. We’ve had a couple of years of little to no expenses, and have a bit of money in the bank to help offset the significant costs it will take to get to Scotland for members, so I’m optimistic that we’ll make it over in 2022.”

It’s not so easy for many. “We have no intention to travel outside of our home association in 2022,” says Jamie Cuthill, pipe-major of Grade 2 Queen City of Denver, Colorado. “Lack of income and practice due to the pandemic will result in a home-focused climb back.”

According to Hervé Le Floc’h, pipe-major of the Grade 2 Bagad Cap Caval of Brittany, “Eighty percent no I would say. Covid-19 plus Brexit – a bit too much for next season.”

The UK has staged a remarkable turnaround in dealing with the pandemic, and countries like the US and Canada are catching up. Australia and New Zealand have been relative models of success, too, but travel could still be a complicating factor, even in August 2022.

For now, though, we can look forward and dream about an even bigger event at Glasgow Green 16 short months from now.

 


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