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Article published 08/08/2022

This year’s highly anticipated Piping Live! festival gets underway today, with the Piping Live! Big Band livening up the streets of Glasgow for the first time since 2019.

Pipers of all ages and abilities gathered in Blythswood Square before marching through Glasgow’s city centre to George Square, delighting onlookers with a varied repertoire of tunes for all.

The mass participation event brought 150 pipers and drummers of all abilities together, allowing them to play an important part in the opening of the prestigious and exciting Piping Live! 2022 line-up. Players aged 8 to 86 all got stuck in, from little participants on their chanters and seasoned professionals playing in retirement.

Pipers standing in city centre square

Now in its 19th year and annually welcoming over 30,000 attendees to Glasgow, Piping Live! is the world’s biggest piping festival. After two years of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions and regulations limiting the festival’s capabilities, organisers are thrilled to welcome back a full in-person offering for the event which will run until Sunday 14 August.

Glasgow has be proud to host Piping Live! for almost 20 years now and it is wonderful to see it return to the streets in such spectacular style. Scotland is one of the best places to experience events and Glasgow city centre provided the perfect stage for the opening of the world’s biggest piping festival, with fans of this music set for a fantastic week. Events play an important role in our communities and EventScotland is delighted to be continuing its support of Piping Live! to allow us all to connect, enjoy and share memorable experiences.

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events

Leading the Big Band parade this year was Piping Live!’s Artistic Director and the Director of Piping at the National Piping Centre, Finlay MacDonald, as well as some of the National Piping Centre’s world-renowned teaching team.

It’s always a proud moment to lead the Piping Live! Big Band through the streets of Glasgow. The collaboration of people of all ages, and the eagerness of those less experienced to get involved, is truly heartwarming to see and such a fitting start to the festival.

The Big Band parade is always a highlight of the festival, and I’ve missed it greatly these last two years. As a player and a teacher, it’s fantastic to be back amongst the music and the rhythm. Performing with a 150-strong pipe band in one of Scotland’s most famous and celebrated cities is an experience unlike any other, and it’s made all the better knowing we are raising money for an amazing charity like Beatson Cancer Charity too.

Finlay MacDonald, Artistic Director for Piping Live!

Over £1,000 raised for charity

Since its inception in 2016, the Piping Live! Big Band has worked in partnership with a chosen charity and this year the festival is delighted to have raised over £1,000 for Beatson Cancer Charity. Everyone who registered to be part of the big band donated to the fantastic organisation, whose aim is to try and ensure no-one faces cancer on their own.

We are so grateful for the fantastic support we’ve received from The National Piping Centre. It always inspires us when our supporters come up with new fundraising ideas that haven’t been done before, and that’s why we’ve been particularly excited about working with The National Piping Centre on something as special as this. It’s so lovely to get back to live events this year and watching a sea of yellow marching through the city centre is a really proud moment for us.

Charlene Low, corporate partnerships fundraiser at Beatson Cancer Charity

Another packed programme of events

This year’s Piping Live! programme includes world-class performances, music sessions, recitals, talks, competitions, book launches, workshops and so much more.

Two young pipers in matching t shirts

Today was just the beginning - we’ve got such an incredible week of piping events on throughout the week for the return of Piping Live!. There really is something for everyone and we would encourage people to come along and celebrate the very best of Scottish music and culture.

Finlay MacDonald, Artistic Director for Piping Live!

What's on?

As this full week of activities gets underway, music fans will be treated to performances from some of best acts on Scotland’s thriving piping and folk music scenes, including multi award-winning folk band RURA, the hugely talented multi-instrumentalist Ross Ainslie, and winner of the 2019 BBC Radio 2 Horizon Award and 2016 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk award, Brìghde Chaimbeul, who will all perform at the Old Fruitmarket.

Piping Live! prides itself on being at the centre of the international piping community and year on year it extends a hand of musical friendship to artists and audiences across the world. Liana Sharifian, the first ever Iranian professional female piper and daughter of the legendary Mohsen Sharifian, will perform alongside her father as well as Habib Meftah. There will also be artists from Estonia – Est Pipes – Uilleann Piper Leonard Barry, and Hungarian duo Balázs Istvánfi & András Németh will perform their traditional-based contemporary modal music on bagpipe and hurdy-gurdy.

Virtual audiences from around the world can also enjoy around 40 hours of live stream content which is all included in one Livestream Festival Pass. Content that will be included in this online festival pass will include The Silver Chanter, The Masters Solo Piping Competition, the Lowland & Borders Pipers' Society Showcase, The Pipe Idol Final, The Gordon Duncan Memorial Competition and the closing concert with Fred Morrison and Paddy Keenan. Several daytime events and the Learn at Live! workshops will also be streamed. 

The World Pipe Band Championships will return to Glasgow Green on Friday and Saturday, 12 to 13 August, where thousands of pipers and drummers from 10 countries will battle it out to determine which band is the best of the best. "The Worlds", as they are affectionately known, have been associated with Glasgow for more than 60 years and will see nearly 150 bands compete across the two days. Spectators can enjoy a range of performers of all ages and abilities, from Novice and Juvenile Grades to the drama of the elite Grade 1 competition. Both Piping Live! and The World Pipe Band Championships are supported by Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Council and EventScotland. 

Piping Live! and the World Pipe Band Championships have been the cornerstone of Glasgow’s cultural calendar for many years. We have missed the wonderful sights, sounds and thousands of UK and overseas visitors that these events bring to the city every August, as Glasgow becomes the global home of piping. So it’s exciting to see them return with full in-person programmes that will ensure piping fans experience a truly spectacular week of traditional Scottish music and culture. The continuing popularity of both events reinforces Glasgow’s enviable reputation as a world-class events destination, and together they provide a considerable boost to the city’s visitor economy.

Bailie Annette Christie, Chair of Glasgow Life

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