Pipe Band Contest Returns to Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh

On Sunday 18th June 2017, the City of Edinburgh prepares to welcome back the pipe band fraternity after an absence of 17 years.

Not since the year 2000 has there been a pipe band contest in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh. This year’s Axios Systems – Edinburgh Pipe Band Championship will take place at the Ross Theatre in West Princes Street Gardens. The Edinburgh Championship will provide an ideal platform for bands preparing for the European Championships the following weekend in Forres, as the adjudication and playing requirements match exactly.

The Ross Bandstand in Princes Street Gardens with the magnificent backdrop of Edinburgh Castle
The Edinburgh Championship will provide competition for all grades of band, from Novice to Grade 1. With over £5,000 in prize money available, it is hoped to attract some of the Worlds most successful bands to compete.

The venue itself, colloquially known as the Ross Band Stand, hosted Pipe Band contests for many years especially during the 70s, 80s and 90s and since announcing its re-emergence many have commented that they remember it as being a great venue for a contest. With a capacity of 2000, the venue has an impressive backdrop of Edinburgh Castle and the green hilly area of Edinburgh Castle Gardens.

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Due to the unique nature of the venue, all bands will compete in ‘concert formation’ facing the audience, with the adjudicators placed in front of the band, but with the ability to move around if required. As the venue is terraced, this will provide an excellent opportunity for the public to see and hear the bands and it is hoped this will present the pipe band in its best light to the public audience as well as the adjudicators.

The suggested band formation is as follows:

Lothian & Borders Branch Chairman John Hughes: ‘The contest would not have been possible without the support of a number of local companies, but especially our headline sponsor, Axios Systems, who have been helping customers achieve business success through effective and efficient management of their IT services for over 25 years.

Lothian & Borders Branch Chairman John Hughes
‘We’re looking forward to welcoming the pipe band fraternity back to the City of Edinburgh and are preparing the venue to provide an excellent platform for the bands in preparation for the European Championships and second half of the pipe band season.’

The draw for the competition involving 23 bands can be found on the RSPBA website and any band who still wishes to play should contact Mr Hughes immediately to see if they can be accommodated. The judges are Ronald MacShannon, George Wilson, Paul Brown and Joe Noble. Entry for the public is free.

Mr Hughes added: ‘It has taken a lot of work by the branch  to get the contest organised and I would like to thank Edinburgh City Council for all their assistance. There are plans to redevelop the Ross Bandstand so this may be the last time it features a pipe band contest though we would hope the alternative would still be able to stage a contest of similar format.’

• The picture up top is of the legendary Muirhead & Sons Pipe Band 60 years ago playing in front of the Ross Bandstand in July 1967. The bands at that time were the reigning World Champions. Can anyone name the personnel in the picture?

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3 thoughts on “Pipe Band Contest Returns to Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh

  1. Maybe this post is out of place here. If so, my humble apologies. I have posted on Youtube a home video of my visit to Edinburgh from Melbourne, Australia, in ’94. It shows the Alex Walker Accordian Band performing on the Princes St level. Can anyone here give me some more information on this Band please. I love the sound.
    (My ancestry goes back to the Perth area and Jedburgh also. Video of our visit there too.)

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