Ashbourne Highland Gathering

Ashbourne Highland Gathering

Pipe Band Competitions

The skirl of the Pipes is synonymous with Scotland and all things relating to the highlands and the Ashbourne Highland Gathering is an opportunity to see and hear the various competitions that are organised for bands and for individuals.

The Ashbourne Highland Gathering culminates with a prize giving ceremony that involves a spectacular mass Pipe Band march followed by all the competing bands marching through the town of Ashbourne to draw the day to a colourful and musical conclusion.

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) is the governing body for pipe band competitions worldwide and it is under its auspices that the Ashbourne Pipe Band Competition is held with RSPBA officials adjudicating, many of which travel down from Scotland just for the competition. The Ashbourne Highland Gathering involvement is as the promoter of the event.

There are two types of competition; Major Championships, of which there are five, and ordinary competitions. For Major championships the following grades apply. Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3 ‘A’, Grade 3’B’, Juvenile, Grade 4 ‘A’, Grade 4 ‘B’ and Novice Juvenile. And for ordinary competitions the following – Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, and Juvenile, Grade 4 and Novice Juvenile.

The Ashbourne competition is in the latter class and the competition and has always been for Grades 1,2,3 and 4. There are no competing Grade 1 bands in England and the competition has not been attracting any bands of that grade from Scotland and Ireland, but a Grade 1 competition is still being offered to give an opportunity for the top Grade 2 bands to “Play Up”* and have their performance assessed by the RSPBA judges.

*Playing up is the process by which a band can compete in the grade above the one they are, in order to be assessed at that level and eventually be upgraded.


          Tune selections:   

          Grade 1:                5/7 Minute Selection

          Grade 2:                March Strathspey Reel

          Grade 3:                3/5 min selection

          Grade 4:                Quick March Selection: 2mins 30sec – 4min 30sec

         Bands may play up* if time permits.

 For Pipe band entry form - click here