American Pipe Band Championship this Saturday in Virginia


The Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championship will return to Scope Plaza on Saturday, April 20, 2024. So far, eight bands from six states are registered to compete.

Grade Two:
City of Chicago Pipe Band, Chicago, Illinois
Great Lakes Pipe Band, Cleveland, Ohio
MacMillan Pipe Band, Rockville, Maryland
Ulster Scottish Pipe Band, Warminster, Pennsylvania
Carnegie Mellon University Pipes and Drums, Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania *Challenging Up

Grade Three:
Carnegie Mellon University Pipes and Drums, Pittsburgh,
MacMillan-Birtles Memorial Pipe Band, Rockville, Maryland
Róisín Dubh Pipe Band, Long Island, New York
Siren City Pipe Band, Norfolk, Virginia *Challenging Up

The contest format will require each band to play twice – first in a March, Strathspey and Reel event and then in a Medley event – for a panel of eight highly acclaimed international judges. Cash prizes will be awarded to the aggregate winners in each grade:
Grade 2: $2,000, first place; $1,000, second place; $500, third place.
Grade 3: $1,500, firstplace; $1,000, second place; $500, third place.
The event will also include a Drum Fanfare Competition with a single $1,000 prize.

The championships are free and open to the public – on Norfolk’s Scope Arena Plaza. 

•The American Pipe Band Championships in 2022 at Norfolk’s Scope Arena Plaza.

Andrew Carlisle, a professor of music and the director of piping at Carnegie Mellon University and a longtime member of the 13-time world champion Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band in Northern Ireland, will return as the contest’s artistic director. Well-known bagpiper and smallpiper Robert Mitchell will serve as the master of ceremonies for the first time after long-time emcee Arthur McAra retired in 2023.

Andrew Carlisle said: “It will be great to hear bagpipes and drums echoing around Scope Plaza again. Located in the middle of a vibrant city centre, the venue is one of the most exciting locations for a pipe band competition. Fingers crossed for the weather,” he added, “but as we found out last year, we always have a wet weather venue within 6,000 seat Scope Arena if we need it.”

•The massed bands at the 2022 American Pipe Band Championships

The American Pipe Band Championship coincides with the Virginia International Tattoo, which will take place April 18-21 at Scope Arena. The international Massed Pipes and Drums this year will feature 51 ACU Swan Regiment Drums and Pipes (Australia), Camden County Emerald Society Pipes and Drums (USA), Scots College Sydney Pipe Band (Australia), Scots College Old Boys Pipes and Drums (Australia), and Tidewater Pipes and Drums (USA). 

The Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championship originated in 2016, when J. Scott Jackson, general manager of the Virginia Arts Festival and producer/director of the Virginia International Tattoo, added the event to draw competitive pipe bands to the Tattoo’s diverse line-up. Scotland’s Inveraray & District Pipe Band won the inaugural event, which featured four Grade 1 bands. Grade 2 champions in subsequent years included City of Dunedin Pipe Band in 2017 and 2018, MacMillan Pipe Band in 2019 and 2022 and Ulster Scottish Pipe Band in 2023. 

This year’s contest will once again be livestreamed on the Virginia International Tattoo’s Facebook page (@VaTatt) beginning at 12 noon Eastern Time which is 5pm in the UK. The closing ceremonies will also be livestreamed at 5:50 p.m. To see videos from previous contests, search for #VITAPBC on Facebook.

Go directly to Ulster Scottish Pipe Band’s Grade 2 winning medley from 2023 here, and all other performances from the 2023 can be found on the Virginia International Tattoo Facebook page here.