More than 4,000 of the world’s best pipers and drummers will turn Paisley into a sea of tartan when one of the most prestigious events in piping returns to the town next month.
Bands will arrive from as far afield as Denmark and Ireland for the massive free-to-attend event – one of piping’s annual calendar of ‘majors’ – at St James Playing Fields on Saturday 19 May.
A total entry of 128 bands has been confirmed, spanning the length and breadth of Scotland, and with others heading north from London, Manchester and Newcastle.
Local talent will be represented, with Johnstone pipe band among those taking on last year’s winners Inveraray and District for the prestigious Grade 1 title, while Kilbarchan will compete in the Grade 4b contest, and the Renfrewshire Schools band in the juvenile grade.
The British Championships are taking place in Paisley for the third year in a row – and have been confirmed for another three years, as part of the expanded programme of events planned as part of the legacy of the town’s UK City of Culture 2021 bid.
Last year’s event saw 12,000 visitors and generated almost £300,000 for the local economy.
The event is being run by Renfrewshire Council and the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and includes a day-long programme of family entertainment – all free – away from the main piping arena.
That will include an international food village and bar, funfair, street traders and Highland dancing competition.
There will also be a plenty to keep kids occupied, with Renfrewshire Leisure staff offering the chance to try out different sports, plus activities run by Paisley Rugby Club, and Renfrewshire’s award-winning Street Stuff team.
Renfrewshire’s Provost Lorraine Cameron, who will be chieftain of the event, said: “I am delighted we are welcoming the championships back to Paisley for another year.
“Last year was a brilliant family day out, and the sight and sound of thousands of pipers gathered for the final march past is an incredible spectacle.
“Paisley is already well established as a key destination on Scotland’s events map – we will be building on that over the next few years and bidding for more events of this scale.
“We know this event brings in huge numbers of people and with it a massive impact on the local economy – we hope as many visitors as possible choose to explore the town while here, and Paisley will be ready to welcome them with open arms.”
Ian Embelton, chief executive of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, added: “Paisley has been a great venue for the championships over the past two years – the town and event site are easy to reach – and we are pleased to be coming back here until 2021.
“The entry for this event features most of the world’s top bands and is second only to the world championships in terms of numbers.
“We are looking forward to another great day of piping and hope as many people as possible can join us.”
There will be no public parking at the event site but visitors can park at St Mirren’s Paisley 2021 Stadium or West College Scotland in Renfrew Road, with McGills running regular shuttle buses from both sites, as well as from Paisley Gilmour Street station for those coming via the town centre.
Scotrail also runs regular services to Paisley St James station from Glasgow Central Station. The train station is a two-minute walk from the competition site.
Other major events coming up in Paisley over the next few weeks include the Paisley Food and Drink Festival – expected to draw thousands to the town centre on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 April.
For more information on the championships and other Paisley events, visit www.paisley.is