Angus MacColl
Angus MacColl

Piping Live! is going strong as restrictions lift

This year’s Piping Live! got underway at the weekend.

And as Scotland enters a new phase of freedom, the Glasgow festival is set to host another seven days of world-class performance and piping competition between now and Sunday, 15 August.

A number of exciting in-person shows are being staged for up to 1,200 attendees as part of the annual event at The National Piping Centre, alongside a rich programme of online concerts, with more than 10,000 people from 20 countries from around the world expected to tune in.

Now in its 18th year and normally annually welcoming over 30,000 attendees to Glasgow, Piping Live! is the world’s biggest piping festival. For 2021 a hybrid approach sees the festival continue to champion Scotland’s native instrument with a packed programme of performance, music sessions, recitals, competitions, book launches and workshops.

The festival kicked off in style at the weekend as Angus MacColl was crowned winner of the prestigious Silver Chanter 2021 – performing MacCrimmon Piobaireachd against five other top players.

As the first full week of activity 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-instrumental duo of Mairearad Green & Anna Massie, Scottish supergroup Mànran, folk favourites Kinnaris Quintet, traditional music trio Hecla and neo-trad trio Project Smok.

Angus MacColl

Folkie Friday, supported by PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund, will also see groundbreaking piping supergroup TRYST premiere five brand-new pieces of music from top composers Donald Shaw, Martin Green, Patsy Reid, Rachel Newton and Mike Vass.

The educational element of the festival, Learn @ Live!, is hosting a series of workshops and masterclasses through the week, with people from countries including Malta, Japan, the US and Canada signed up to brush up on their piping skills with the Piping Centre’s world-class tutors.

Other in-person performances include the popular Lunchtime Recital Series, while sessions from emerging talent will take place on four afternoons in collaboration with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Piobaireachd of the Day recitals, sponsored by the Piobaireachd Society, welcomed experienced pipers to perform and discuss interpretation and delivery of this great music and A Scottish Pipe Band Showcase featured a combination of quartets and pipe and drum duos on Tuesday.

Competition will be fierce for world-class pipers taking part in the various events including The Masters Solo Piping Competition on Wednesday and the Pipe Major Alasdair Gillies Memorial Piping Competition on Thursday. The week will end with the internationally renowned Gordon Duncan Memorial Competition involving competitors from Scotland, Ireland, Brittany and Australia.

The festival’s exclusive, online-only content includes Come & Try Pipes online session tonight and four piping book launches. Also taking place online is Karafolkie sessions, curated by Jenn Butterworth, which will give people the chance to play along with some of the best musicians on the Scottish music scene.

A number of exclusive international showcases will also be streamed and The National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland’s will air a special pre-recorded concert on Saturday.

Pipers John Mulhearn and Finlay MacDonald of TRYST and guitarist Jenn Butterworth and fiddle player Aileen Reid of Kinnaris Quintet

Finlay MacDonald, artistic director for Piping Live!, said: ‘This year’s Piping Live! festival has got underway in fantastic style as we saw the very best pipers alongside up and coming talent impress and entertain over the weekend. We’ve got so much more to come and this week will be jam-packed with a unique mix of unforgettable Scottish and international performances.

‘People have been quick to snap up in person tickets and we’re grateful for the unwavering support from local audiences as we mark the beginning of new freedoms for music lovers in Scotland. For our international followers, it’s fantastic to see so many take up the opportunity to experience Glasgow’s Piping Live! from their corner of the world.’

Piping Live! is supported by Glasgow Life and EventScotland. Tickets for both online and in-person shows start at £5, up to £17.50, while online festival passes are available for £65.

The ticketed concerts are seated and socially distanced with the venue undergoing extensive cleaning and ongoing COVID safety checks, with enhanced hygiene measures in place in strict adherence to government guidelines. Online shows are available to view for one week after they are first streamed.

The festival’s Street Café has moved inside for 2021, giving people the chance to sample some great Scottish food and drink including Brew Dog beer, while an outdoor bar will be open all this week, allowing people to drop in for a drink.

Piping Live! will run until Sunday 15 August. View the full programme and buy tickets now at