Why I Won’t Sit in the Stands at the Worlds Again

Fistly I want to say thanks to Alistair Aitken for his reports from the 2022 Worlds. They are always respectful, well researched and authoritative.

I was interested in his comment: ‘Perhaps strangely, most of the spectators preferred to stand or sit around the competing band arenas.’

By Iain White

I can give some personal insight. I have attended the Worlds for as long as I can remember with my two pals, buying seats in the main arena stand. We are all former band pipers.

We decided in 2019 that next time we wouldn’t use the stand. Increasingly, we had found the ‘behaviour’ of many people around us to be unacceptable. Constant talking during the band performances was the main issue, although one year we had a falsetto singer accompanying the performances sitting beside us. In the stand you cannot move away from the culprits. You are stuck.

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Ironically, these folk would often be quiet during the intervals and start talking during the performance. Never once were we offered share of the picnics or sweeties that they made so much noise distributing!

Over zealous stewarding was a problem too. It made it difficult to leave once you were in and even worse to get back in. We once waited almost 20 minutes to get back in. This meant that it was difficult to hear bands of interest to us in the lower grades through the day and we missed Grade 1 performances while in the queue.

It is nice to have a ‘refreshment’ as you listen to the bands. This is forbidden in the stands where you aren’t actually that close to the competition circle.

Packed ‘hill’, half empty stand

£13 to get through the main gate and then £30 for the main arena?? Although luckily not a major consideration for us, this is far too expensive. So this year we stood ‘on the bank’ or maybe, as with Wimbledon, it should now be called Parkes’s Hill?

Result? We actually heard the bands better. The listeners were largely band members, and interested in the performances, so it was quiet. We were able to easily go to listen to bands in the lower grades too, and catch a bit of the Grade 1 tuning area and meet more friends from bygone years.

If anyone was talking (hardly ever) you could simply move away – and we were able to enjoy a ‘refreshment’ as well. In summary, it was a far more enjoyable day and we shall not be returning to the stands.

9 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Sit in the Stands at the Worlds Again

  1. I too have abandoned the stands, although I tried on the Friday this year to get out of the sun (right Rab, and that didn’t help) On Saturday I stood mid Circle most of the day, and was quite disappointed that it seemed those who got there early to set up their lawn chairs continued to babble through all the great performances, even though they were asked to be quiet by a few bystanders.

  2. I wouldn’t buy it because of the long wait time to get in and out. Are the stands a permanent structure? It seems like a layout problem. Watching the bands come in and out is just daft

  3. We had exactly the same experience with a man from Germany who spoke quite loudly during the performance and was quite in between. He was really anoying. And it’s always difficult getting in and out of the seating area. It’s still worth getting seats though you shouldn’t have to but I am just as rude as the people who are talking and I ask them to be quite.

  4. I’ll never forget the Grade 1 arena in the early 2000’s. Three stands around the arena packed out and the crowd following behind the drum corps near enough up to the line,

  5. As someone who’s friend is an amputee and an ex-piper I have “sat in the stand” or more accurately the walkway/disabled area in front of the stand for several years. We have made friends with one of the supervisors (Anne) and have to say we get first class treatment, she can’t do enough to help!

    The downside is very much along the lines as pointed out by the writer – noisy/ignorant spectators and it won’t be the first time that we’ve had to tell people to shut up (yes we are not shrinking violets as anyone who knows me will confirm!).

    I also noticed this year that the stewards were allowing alcoholic drink into the arena (perhaps the policy has changed) but this was only after being challenged by a spectator and a steward spoke to a supervisor for clarification.

    I would also say that the sound is different when sitting at a level where your ear is about the height of the chanter and it is at times difficult to pick out mistakes and hear other aspects of the performance clearly from such a low position. The sound also bounces of the stand and the hard plastic walkway making what you hear different to what you hear when standing on the hill.

    This year the stands were practically empty and most probably made a financial loss! My solution would be to to only have one stand – the one the bands exit under, however I have a feeling the organisers answer will be to keep it as is and increase the ticket prices!!

  6. I remember the times before there was any seating, and my having to stand as near the front of the audience at the Grade 1 arena for hours on end to retain my position, often holding an umbrella in one hand and an old VHS camera (with permission) in the other !

    Perhaps the organisers could charge a higher entrance fee, with free access to the seating stands (?)

  7. I agree totally with Iain’s comments. I made the decision never to sit in the stand ever again in 2009 (if memory serves) when stewards prevented people from leaving the stand to get a refreshment or visit the toilet, and there was at least a 30 minute wait in an uncontrolled “queue” to get back in. I am not holding my breath waiting for any reform from the organisers

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