Cowell Highland Gathering Downgrades

The Cowal Highland Gathering

The Cowal Highland Gathering

The Cowal Highland Gathering is one of the largest and most renowned Highland Games in the world, it has been running for over 100 years. It now attracts crowds of over 20,000 people. But now the future of these famous games hangs in the balance.

It has been stripped of it’s major pipe band status due to a lack of proper infrastructure.

Organisers of the event have decided to withdraw the Argyllshire event’s elite status with the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) – which will see the number of bands performing at the event drop from around 130 to just 60. This will take effect after this year’s event, the last as one of the world’s leading piping competitions. Organisers say they were forced to make this decision by the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, who said that the event had “outgrown” the facilities at the event arena in Dunoon.

Gathering chairman Ronnie Cairns said: “The pipe band events have outgrown the venue we have and we have been told by the RSPBA that if Cowal was bidding for a major event for the first time today that we simply wouldn’t get it.

“We recognise that the increasing competitiveness of the event and numbers of bands attending were putting a strain on the space and resources we had available and that this was leading to unhappiness amongst some of the bands.

“It was a fait accompli – we were either turfed out or we worked with them. The RSPBA has made a commitment not to have another competition over the last weekend in August.

“It is a concern – we don’t know the number of bands we will get at the replacement competition, but we are looking at ways of encouraging bands to take part.”

Ian Embelton, chief executive of the RSPBA, said: “The decision was taken with the RSPBA branch members’ full support and the Association is committed to working with Cowal Highland Gathering Committee to ensure the continued success of this historic event which will still be held on the last Saturday in August.”

Local MSP Mike Russell is looking into why this has happened and is looking to the event oragnisers for answers saying the “international standing” of the event would be diminished and the tourism industry damaged by this surprise move.

Argyll and Bute Council said the downgrading of the event – worth £3.7 million to the economy in recent years – was “extremely bad news.”

In the official statement which announced the downgrading of the event on the RSPBA website said the changes were aimed at making the Gathering a more fun event for pipers. for full

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About Amanda Moffet

I run with Rodger Moffet. Live in Edinburgh and love travelling around Scotland gathering stories.

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