Cowal Games Cancelled for 2020

In a statement issued this afternoon the board of Cowal Highland Gathering, one of the latest in the piping and pipe band calendar, have stated the following: ‘The Board of Cowal Highland Gathering has taken the difficult decision to cancel this year’s event, as a result of the ongoing coronavirus situation.

‘Whilst we understand the decision is disappointing we feel it is the right one to protect the safety of the competitors, visitors and officials who travel from around the world to Cowal, as well as protecting the integrity of the various championships that are held over the weekend, including the World Highland Dancing Championships. 

‘All tickets purchased for 2020 will automatically transfer to the 2021 Cowal Highland Gathering which will take place on the 26th, 27th and 28th August. If anyone has any questions they should contact the CHG office at 

We look forward to welcoming you back to Cowal in 2021, in the meantime please stay safe and well and look after each other. 

Board Chairman Ronnie Cairns said: ‘This is the announcement we desperately hoped we wouldn’t have to make. 

‘Up until the last moment we have been working hard to put together a Gathering which delivers the spectacle we are famous for, while also supporting local businesses which benefit from the number of people the event brings to the area.

‘However, it has become clear that substantial travel restrictions will remain in place for some considerable time. This would have a devastating effect on our international Highland Dancing competitors in particular and would damage the integrity of the World Highland Dancing Championships.

‘At the start of this pandemic we were hopeful we would be able to host this year’s event. As time went on we looked at ways of staging the Gathering in a different format for 2020 but there are just too many uncertainties, together with the potential impact staging the event could have on the emergency services and other key partners, and the time is now right to cancel this year’s event.

‘We are extremely sorry to disappoint all the thousands of people who compete in, visit as spectators or volunteer at the Gathering – as well as the wider Cowal population who so look forward to the event every year. We share their sadness, but will look forward to welcoming everyone back here in August next year’. 

Chairman of the Royal Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (RSOBHD) Christine Lacey MBE said: ‘This has been a heart-breaking decision. There are Highland Dancers across the world who have been practicing all year to have the opportunity to dance on Cowal’s famous dancing boards. 

‘However, as much as we all love the World Highland Dancing Championships, the health, the safety and the well being of all dancers, teachers, adjudicators, pipers, event supporting colleagues and the general public must absolutely be our paramount concern. We also have to be mindful of the economic situation going forward from this pandemic both from the financial aspect from everyone’s perspective and from the ability for anyone to travel safely both domestically and internationally. 

‘We hope this cancellation will mean that we can all meet up again in 2021 where we can embrace the love and respect we all have within our Highland Dancing global community and all be able to compete safely against the best in the world.’

People have been gathering in Dunoon on the last weekend of August since 1894, and this is the only time the event has been cancelled apart from the war years.

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