Simon Fraser University competing at the 2018 World Pipe Band Championships.
Simon Fraser University competing at the 2018 World Pipe Band Championships.

The 2020 World Pipe Band Championships and the Piping Live! Glasgow International Piping Festival were both cancelled today.

Both events were scheduled to take place in Glasgow – the Worlds on August 14-15; Piping Live! from August 8-16.

RSPBA logo

A statement from the RSPBA said: “The World Pipe Band Championships is the competition where bands, pipers and drummers want to test themselves against the very best. Behind every band that competes there are months of practising together, weeks of planning to get the bands to the arenas and vast amounts of fundraising and none of this can be done now. The safety of everyone taking part and the integrity of the competition at all grades were the key factors in taking this decision now. Although very disappointed we will look forward to being back at Glasgow Green in 2021.”

Councillor David McDonald, Chair of Glasgow Life, and Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council said: “The World Pipe Band Championships has been associated with Glasgow longer than any other major summer event. This decision was taken in consultation with the RSPBA and EventScotland but was still difficult, even though we know it is the right one. Glasgow comes alive with the sound of pipe bands in August and we are very much looking forward to welcoming the championships back next year.”

This is the first time the flagship event in the pipe band world has been cancelled since it began in 1947 (although since 1906 the Grade 1 competition winners at the annual Cowal Highland Gathering were recognised as World Champions). The World Pipe Band Championships used to be held at various parts of the UK but, since 1986, have been held in Glasgow every year.

Piping Live logo

A spokesman for Piping Live! said: “The programme for this year’s Piping Live! was still to be announced and tickets had yet to go on sale, but festival sponsors, partner venues and performers have been informed of the cancellation.”

Finlay MacDonald, Artistic Director of Piping Live! said: “This hasn’t been an easy decision, but it’s one we feel is entirely necessary to help safeguard the health and wellbeing of our staff, performers, volunteers and attendees. Year on year, Piping Live! attracts crowds from across the world and we believe it’s our responsibility, as a tourism hotspot, to do our bit in helping reduce the further spread of this pandemic. We are ever hopeful the situation gets better quickly. If that happens, we will consider the possibility of a smaller event later in the year.

“The piping community really is like no other and we consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have thousands of the most loyal fans. People who we know will continue to do their part in getting one another through these challenging times. 

“As a festival, we’re committed to making 2021 our biggest and best year yet. As a community, we’ll continue to do what we can to keep spirits high and the pipes playing.”

Piping Live!, the largest bagpipe festival in the world, was established in 2003 and is a separate event to the World Pipe Band Championships.