Belfast TradFest solo piping competition and a week of piping and trad music masterclasses in July 2024


Belfast TradFest runs from July 21-28, with the choice of three week-long piping workshops running from Monday 22nd till Friday 26th at Ulster University, York Street, BT15 1ED

Pipers have the option of Smallpipe Masterclasses with Fin Moore or Bagpipes for Beginners with Andy McGregor and Highland Bagpipes with Grahame Harris.

Drummers can attend Snare Drum & Pipe Band Percussion masterclasses with Mark Wilson.

Evening concerts and trad music sessions run all week during the festival, and the full programme for day-time and evening events can be downloaded as a pdf file here.

Solo Piping Competition

The Belfast TradFest Solo Piping Competition takes place on Sunday, July 21, upstairs at The Deer’s Head, Lower Garfield Street, Belfast, with doors open at 4pm.

The competition has a selection of Ireland’s top Pipers perform a 6-8 minute Irish-inspired medley, showcasing their unique playing styles. Sit back, relax and take in some of the best Highland Piping to be heard across Ireland.

The competitor line-up includes:

Last year’s winner, Alastair Donaghy has had a very successful solo piping career, both here in Northern Ireland and over the water in various competitions. He has won the Senior Ulster MSR prize as well as the Senior Ulster Hornpipe and Jig prize. To add to this, he has also won the C grade MSR and Hornpipe and Jig prize at the prestigious Highland Society of London Competition.

Alastair has been a member of the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band since 2016, and during that time he has won the World Championships 3 times, as well as a host of other major and All-Ireland championship prizes.

Alan MacPherson has competed for 10 years at the highest level of competitive piping in Grade 1; winning all of the major band titles. A piping career highlight was winning the 2018 World Pipe Band championships in Glasgow with the 13-time world champion Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band. Alongside competitive piping, he has performed at festivals and tattoos across the world and has performed for various BBC/TG4 television programmes as a solo piper for both the Ulster Orchestra and the RTE Concert Orchestra.

A keen folk musician and participant in the traditional music scene, he plays also whistles and saxophone, and is one half of the Irish traditional music group McGarrity/MacPherson, who are in the process of releasing their debut EP.

Scott Wallace has had an extremely successful solo piping career having won all the major senior titles in Ireland and has been a regular in prize lists in Scotland. He has played as a member of both world championship winning pipe bands, Field Marshal Montgomery & St Laurence O’Toole. Over a 13-year stretch he has won every major title multiple times including 6 world titles. He is a current member of Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band. 

Reece Doherty is an up-and-coming solo Piper who has had success in local solo competitions and is the current U18 All Ireland champion. Reece’s piping career started at the age of 8 when his late grandfather Billy Doherty started him on the practice chanter, after a few months Reece joined Kildoag Pipe Band where he played for 2 seasons, he then piped in Raphoe Pipe Band along with his grandfather for another 2 seasons before making the move to grade 2 with Colmcille Pipe Band. At present Reece now plays with Manorcunningham Pipe Band from Co Donegal.

Outside of piping, Reece is currently completing his A-Levels, including music at Limavady High School an enjoys playing the Smallpipes and low D whistle.

Alan Glenholmes from Cullybackey currently competes with Grade 1 Closkelt Pipe Band and has previously played with St Laurence O’Toole and Cullybackey Pipe Band. He has won several prizes in solo competitions across Ireland. 

Belfast TradFest Solo Highland Piping Competition