Official Aboyne Games Announcement/ Early Bird Schools Offer from Piping Live!

The promoters of Aboyne Highland Games have sent this…

A regular at Aboyne is piper Calum Brown pictured here at the 2019 games. Credit Moyra Gray

Traditional musicians are being given the opportunity to perform this summer in virtual competitions organised by Aboyne Highland Games.

The Aberdeenshire event, like most Highland Games across Scotland, has been cancelled again in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.  However, the event’s organising committee, determined to give solo pipers and fiddle players a stage on which to play competitively this year, is holding a series of online competitions.

It is the second successive year that the traditional Deeside event has taken some of its 95 competitions online.  Last year, it organised a successful virtual piping competition that saw over 30 pipers from around the world perform. 

This year, the piping events are being complemented by fiddle competitions after Aboyne Highland Games also moved these online.  All competitions are free to enter.  Prize money will be awarded for the top five performances in each piping competition, and the top four in each fiddle competition.  A separate overall prize for the best local fiddler will also be presented.

Respected piper and piping convenor for Aboyne Highland Games, Dr Jack Taylor, is again organising the piping competitions.  The fiddle competitions are being arranged and judged by renowned Scottish fiddler Paul Anderson MBE, who is a member of the Aboyne Highland Games committee and was instrumental in introducing fiddle events to the games in 2008.

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Three piping events are being held virtually this year – the open competitions for the piobaireachd, march, and strathspey and reel.  Entries in the piping section are limited to 30 places and the closing date for entering is Wednesday, 30 June [click on display ad for more].

Each piper is required to submit their choice of six piobaireachds, four marches, and four strathspeys and reels when applying.  The tunes that each piper will be required to play will be chosen at random from their submissions by the judges, and will be notified of them on Friday, 07 July.  Pipers then have a week to film their performance and submit it for judging.

Fiddle competitions will be split into three age categories and entrants are required to submit a YouTube video of their performance for judging by Friday, 30 July.  All tunes being performed must be Scottish in origin and are of the entrants own choosing. 

Those aged 12 and under are required to play any two Scottish tunes, while those aged 15 and under are asked to perform three Scottish tunes.  Entrants aged 16 and over need to play a slow air, a march, a strathspey and a reel.

Several local businesses are sponsoring the competitions, including Johnston Oils, Ian MacDonald Architecture, Gerry Robb Architectural Design Services, Bill Barclay Kiltmaker and Chris Caldwell of Strachan.

Results of all the competitions will be announced on Saturday, 07 August, the day on which Aboyne Highland Games would traditionally be held. 

Dr Jack Taylor, piping convenor for Aboyne Highland Games, said: “The response from pipers last year was excellent, with more competitors than we would normally have at the games.  Although the format and atmosphere are very different for a virtual competition, it is clear there is an appetite among pipers to perform competitively.  I expect there will be high standard shown once again this year, giving the judges a few difficult decisions.”

Paul Anderson MBE said: “Aboyne Highland Games is unique in that it is the only Highland Games in the north-east that features a fiddle competition, celebrating Deeside’s rich fiddle music heritage.  It is great that the games is providing this virtual platform for fiddlers of all ages to perform this year.  Competitions such as this are hugely important in nurturing fiddle playing and for promoting and preserving traditional Scottish music.  We hope to attract a good number of entrants from far and wide, and I look forward to listening to the performances.”

Alistair Grant, chairman of Aboyne Highland Games, said: “Pipe and fiddle music plays a huge part in the fabric of Aboyne Highland Games.  Although disappointing not to hear it live on Aboyne Green again this year, these virtual competitions are an excellent substitute, offering musicians a competitive platform on which to play, which I know they have been missing.

“We are very grateful to our sponsors for their generous support in enabling the competitions to take place.  A lot of work has been carried out by Jack and Paul, their stewards, judges, and numerous other people to arrange proceedings, and it will be great to hear the result of that hard work in August.”

Full details of the competitions, including entry forms, are available at

Founded in 1867, Aboyne Highland Games is a traditional Scottish Highland games held annually on the first Saturday in August.  The Aberdeenshire event, held under the patronage of Granville Gordon, the 13th Marquis of Huntly, attracts crowds of up to 10,000 people each year. The event on the town’s green attracts visitors from around the world and makes an important contribution to the local Deeside economy.  Further information on Aboyne Highland Games can be found at

Piping Live! – Half Price Tickets for Schools

Helen Urquhart reports…

Piping Live! are delighted to announce a new ticket offer for schools across the world, where they can now receive 50% off the online festival pass for their students, so they can watch a full week of evening concerts and more events throughout the week for only £25. 

From today, schools can contact Piping Live! to redeem this ticket offer. But schools must act fast, tickets must be redeemed to watch online before midnight on Wednesday 30th June, when the offer ends, with only those redeemed able to watch all the action with 50% off! 

Finlay MacDonald, Artistic Director of the Festival said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this fantastic deal to school students around the world. By making our events more accessible to young players we hope to inspire the next generation of soloists, traditional musicians and world pipe band champions.” 

To get school tickets, please email with the name of the school and the number of passes you require. 

Piping Live! returns with a full week of concerts, talks, book launches and more from 7th – 15th August. You can view the whole programme and get your online early bird festival pass now for £50 at

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