News: Atholl Gathering Entries Closed/ Pipe Idol/ Band Sponsor/ Aboyne Tickets/ Fèisean Cash

Angus Clarke of the Atholl Gathering has asked us to point out that that entries for the C Grade Piobaireachd at this year’s Gathering on May 28 are closed. Later he confirmed all other senior contests were now closed with 62 pipers entered. Angus says there is still room for entries in the Juniors.

The Atholl Gathering, held on the land adjacent to Blair Castle, Blair Atholl, Perthshire, is considered the first of the main Highland games season and always attracts a large crowd. The Games usually features a parade by the Atholl Highlanders and their Pipes and Drums (above).

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Band Sponsors

The City of Edinburgh Pipe Band has announced a new, three year, sponsorship deal with trade union Unison.

Pipe Major, David Clunie, said: ‘We very much welcome Unison’s generous support, which will help greatly with our running costs – instruments, transport, uniforms.’

The Grade 2 band is the senior band in Scotland’s capital. It was formed in 1947 in the Midlothian mining village of Danderhall. 

Pipe Major Clunie is a former Pipe Major of Clan Gregor Society, Tayside Police and Denny and Dunipace Gleneagles. 

Leading drummer is Simon Grant, drumming instructor for Preston Lodge High School. Simon has played with Clan Gregor Society, Lothian & Borders Police and Scottish Power.

City of Edinburgh’s first contest of the season is at Dunbar on Saturday, 13 May.

Pipe Idol

Helen Urquhart of the National Piping Centre reports…. We have now opened entries into this year’s ‘Pipe Idol’ competition. We would love an international contingent to take part.

With four heats Monday 14th – Thursday 17th August, and a final later on Thursday, this is a great opportunity for young solo players from around the world, who will be in Glasgow this summer and are aged U21 on 11th Aug. 

Competitors will be asked to play a hornpipe and jig, a March, Strathspey and Reel and a medley of tunes between 5 – 7 mins at the ‘Piping Live’ street café at McPhater Street. Judges are hidden in the audience. The overall winner will receive a set of Fred Morrison Reelpipes. 

To apply, please record a video of yourself playing a Hornpipe and Jig and an MSR and send it to along with your name, age, date of birth and country. 

Applications close on 2nd June at 5pm UK time. All applicants will be notified the following week. 

Above is the 2022 Winner, Luke Kennedy, accepting his prize from festival Artistic Director, Finlay MacDonald. Photo: John Slavin Photography.

Fèisean Funding

A total of £111,000 has been made available to support Gaelic and Scots culture via two funding streams. Administered by Gaelic arts organisation Fèisean nan Gàidheal, both schemes have a simple application process and aim for a response is within a month of deadline dates.

For a number of years Creative Scotland has contributed £45,000 per annum to Gaelic Arts Fund and will do so again in 2023-24. For the first time, Bòrd na Gàidhlig has agreed to contribute an additional £30,000, making a total of £75,000 available to distribute. 

The fund is to assist Gaelic arts initiatives with priority given to projects delivered through the medium of Gaelic or which contribute to Gaelic learning and use. There are two deadlines for applications for the Gaelic Arts Fund – 26th May and 10th November 2023.

Another fund, Tasgadh (Investing), has £36,500 to distribute and is open to those with a proven track record in Scottish traditional dance, storytelling or music.  Awards of between £250 and £1,000 are available and past successful projects include music classes and workshops, dance development and collaborations, composition of new music, tours, personal development and research projects, internships and festivals. Deadlines for applications: 19th May and 20th October 2023 and 26th January 2024.

More information: and

Aboyne Tickets

Cara O’Brien reports: Aboyne Games return on the first Saturday of August this summer with early bird tickets now available online. 

Founded in 1867, the Games kick start the Highland Games season on Royal Deeside and inject around £450,000 into the local economy. The day features 95 traditional events including Highland Dancing, solo piping and fiddle competitions, pipes bands, athletic events, tug o’ war, and a hill race.

Chairman of the Games, Danny Robb, said: ‘We are all looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Aboyne Highland Games this August.’

A special Early Bird ticket is available for visitors buying online at £11.50 for adults and £3.00 for children aged 5-15 . No booking fee will be added to tickets purchased before 30 June.  Entry prices on games day will be £13 for adults and £4 for children over the age of five. Visit and click on ‘Buy Tickets’. 

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. 

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