New Zealand Pipe Band Championships take over Nelson this weekend

Stoke Celtic Pipe Band Musical Director Callum Gilchrist plays at the Botanics, Nelson, ahead of this weekend's Pipe ...
BRADEN FASTIER

Stoke Celtic Pipe Band Musical Director Callum Gilchrist plays at the Botanics, Nelson, ahead of this weekend's Pipe Band Nationals competition at Trafalgar Park.

Nelson will host over 2000 bagpipe players and supporters from all over the country this weekend.

It's the fourth time the NZ Pipe Band Championships have been held in Nelson. The last one was two years ago.

Royal New Zealand Pipe Bands' Association national committee and Celtic Pipe Band secretary Helen Gilchrist said they were well organised this year and "it should be really slick".

Pipers march down Trafalgar St during the last Celtic Pipe Band National Championships to be held in Nelson in 2015.
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Pipers march down Trafalgar St during the last Celtic Pipe Band National Championships to be held in Nelson in 2015.

"People tout the last contest [in Nelson] as the best contest ever, so there's a really high bar to make it even better."

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She said 39 bands and nine juvenile bands of 18-year-olds and under were competing against each other this year. 

Local and Top of the South bands are Nelson Celtic Pipe Band, Blenheim & Districts and City of Nelson.

A band usually averages 20 people, but could also be up to 35 to 40 people.

Gilchrist said they expected about 3000 to 4000 people to come through the gates over the two days.

"If we get fine weather we're hoping for 5000 or 10,000, but we'll just see."

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She said the projection was that the event would inject over $2 million into the local economy.

"We're really pleased to hold it here, we've got a successful banding culture in Nelson and we want the Nelson public to see that.

"We hardly have any contests here."

On Friday and Saturday, each band will perform a set of three particular tunes and after that they compete in a medley, choosing their own composition. 

Gilchrist said she hoped more young people would join the pipe banding culture after hearing the different bands during the competition.

She said the main difference to other pipe band competitions around the country was that only one band will be performing at a time in the park.

"Most competitions have all of them playing at the same time and it sounds awful. 

"We really want this to be good for the public so that they get to listen to one band."

She said the bands also compete in a street march on Saturday morning.

The last street march in Nelson was "fabulous", Gilchrist said.

"All the bands loved it and the public loved it too, everyone that I ask remembers it.

"Bands will wear their full military uniform with big feather bonnets, spats and fancy jackets with large glen gorham brooches."

The championships will be held at Trafalgar Park on Friday March 10 and Saturday March 11. 

 - Stuff

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