Piping At Forres hits the right note in third year

20,000 people turned out for the championships
20,000 people turned out for the championships

A bumper crowd flocked to Forres on Saturday as the town hosted the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s (RSPBA) European championships for the third time.

And this year’s Piping At Forres was hailed the most successful yet after attracting an estimated 20,000 people.

Concerns that excessive rain would hinder Grant Park’s ability to host the extravaganza were short-lived as showers gave way to sunshine, allowing the 4,000 band members and event staff to put on a sure-footed show.

In a fiercely competitive field, reigning world champions Field Marshal Montgomery, of Lisburn, Northern Ireland, came out on top in the grade 1 category to claim the European crown.

Renfrew’s Johnstone finished first in grade 2 and the novice juvenile winner was Dollar Academy.

In other classes, Alicia Dickson Hamilton, of Matt Boyd Memorial, won the adult drum major title, while Zoe McDowell, from Aughintober, won the juvenile grade and Cullybackey’s Abigail Wenlock the junior grade.

Away from the skirl of the pipes, visitors enjoyed 114 trade stalls, a craft marquee, an education centre, a food and drink tent and a specialist gin bar.

Ian Widdowson, chairman of Forres Events Ltd, which organised the gathering, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the sun shone, the park dried up and lots of people were here having a wonderful day.

“The park had a busy feel about it and everywhere you looked there was a lot of smiley, happy faces.”

Forres councillor and Forres Events member George Alexander added: “It was pretty incredible we got that window of sunshine. We don’t have an exact count of attendees yet, but all of us in the association agree that it was the biggest crowds we have had so far.”

Ian Embelton, chief executive of the RSPBA said Forres Events had taken piping championships to a new level.

VisitScotland director of events Paul Bush said: “The combination of the warm Moray welcome, the scenic historical backdrop of Forres and world-class piping on offer ensured that locals and visitors travelling from far and wide experienced a memorable day of wide-ranging entertainment at this year’s championships.”