Highland games featuring more bands
Centennial Park goes to the Scots on Sunday (Sept. 2) as the Canmore Highland Games celebrates its 21st annual event.
One of the key events, at least for those who bought their tickets in advance, the evening’s Ceilidh promises the pipes and the rock with Celtica – Pipes Rock!, a multi-cultural band whose members hail from Austria, the U.S. and, of course, Scotland. The band’s website illustrates a show with fire juggling and guitar-mounted flamethrowers, yes, flamethrowers.
Sadly, while they’re not bringing their flamethrowers or fire juggling (something about tents and open flame…), Celtica still promises an excellent night’s entertainment bringing together “blazing bagpipes, mighty drums and the power of a rock band.”
Even though the Ceilidh, which is now sold out, is the capstone of the day-long highland games, thankfully, it is only one of the memorable events that make the Canmore Highland Games a memorable affair year-after-year.
And according to Sandy McLeod, president of the Three Sisters Scottish Festival Society, this year’s festival should match previous years and quite possibly surpass it, as the number of pipe and drum bands is at all-time high of 17.
The Canmore Highland Games begin Sunday morning with the gates opening at 7 a.m., followed by a pancake breakfast in the heated festival tent at 7:30 a.m.
The individual piping and drumming competition, along with the highland dance and heavy sports, begin at 8 a.m.
The popular sheep dog demonstrations occur at 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. The pipe band competition is planned for 2 p.m. and the massed pipes and drums are at 5 p.m. The Ceilidh runs from 6-11 p.m.
McLeod said 17 bands from all four western provinces, including one of Alberta’s top bands, Alberta Caledonia, and two Calgary Police Service bands, have signed up to participate in the games.
The Canmore games continue to build on its reputation bringing in top judges, bands and competitors.
“Some of the judges judged in the world pipe championships in August, that’s one of the things I find really exciting,” McLeod said.
Canmore resident Darrell Jones, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Alberta-N.W.T. Command, is this year’s Canmore Highland Games chieftain and will open the festivities.
Members of Clan Wallace are linking their family reunion with this year’s games, as well.
“Of course, we would be nowhere without the volunteers and sponsors. We have about 400 volunteers and we really appreciate their support. It takes a lot of work in organizing an event like this and it is all over in one day; it’s the dedication of a lot of people working on this,” McLeod said.
“It’s an exciting day for a lot of people to see the events and learn about the culture and to promote awareness of the Scottish culture and maybe get people interested in learning highland dancing or the pipes,” she said.
Along with retail and food tents, the games will also host clan tents where people with Scottish descent can learn more about their heritage.
Truly one of the highlights of the games, along with the Ceilidh, is when the 17 bands take to the field at Centennial Park for the massed pipes and bands, featuring over 340 pipers and drummers.
“It is such a spectacular location, the pipes being played in the mountains, it adds to the whole atmosphere,” McLeod said.
Go to the Canmore Highland Games website at www.canmorehighlandgames.ca for more information, including the schedule, or to order tickets.
Advance tickets range in price from $5 for kids 6-12 to $15 for adults. Seniors and youths 13-17 are $12.
Tickets are also available at the gate.
For now, Environment Canada is calling for sunny skies with highs of 21C.
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