World Piping Championships: Glasgow

Imagine the scene: in the early afternoon on Saturday, after breakfast in bed at The Carlton George Hotel, two visiting bloggers are wandering in the direction of Glasgow Green to visit The World Piping Championships.  It’s the first morning in the city so the visitors haven’t quite got their bearings and believe that they are somewhat lost, somewhere in the vicinity of the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art, complete with its cone-clad statue out front.

A Glasgow native told us that no matter how often the Glasgow Council remove this cone, it is replaced by upstanding Glaswegian citizens of a Friday or Saturday night.  We truly are cut from the same cloth, the Glaswegians and the Dubs.

Suddenly, however, the lost bloggers spot a man in a kilt walking in a south westernly direction.  They follow him around the corner towards the main street, only to see at least another 8 kilt wearers.  The bloggers take this as a sign and follow the kilt-adorning gentlemen (and a few ladies) all the way to the Glasgow Green.

In fairness, we were also following the sound of the droning bagpipes.

55,000 people turned out last Saturday to enjoy the World Piping Championships, with quite a large percentage of that number competing for the Title of World Piping Champions, with groups coming from all over Scotland, as well as Ireland, Canada, Australia and quite a few more.

It turns out that Dublin’s Lawrence O’Toole Pipe Band were crowned World Champions after a gruelling day of demonstrations by over 8,000 pipers and drummers.

As well as the Pipers, there were Highland Dancing competitions, a Taste of Scotland tent and – our personal favourite – the Glasgow World Highland Games competition.

The Highland Dancing competitors

The Taste of Scotland marquee had stalls full of Scottish produce, so we enjoyed a nice Scottish ale, an oyster each as well as sitting in on a Food Demonstration by Siobhan Ingram on behalf of the Food Standards Agency.

The highlight really was the Heavies though.  In the far corner of Glasgow Green, huge men from around the world – Scotland, Poland, Sweden among a few others – were competing against each other by seeing who could throw very large heavy objects the furthest.  It was such fun.

While watching these modern day giants throwing stones about in skirts, I thought of how in ancient times, men and women (but let’s face it, mainly men) of these proportions would have been soldiers, warriors, heros, protectors of us all.  In modern times their place in society has lessened – you don’t  need to be a huge strong ox a man/woman to be an investment banker or a blogger, say.

My personal favourite Heavy Man.  I can imagine his trainer saying “You should really cut down on the beer” and his reply being “I’m going to sit on you if you don’t stop hassling me about my love of brew” ensuing swallowing of trainer’s words.

Instead, their purpose in life is now to throw heavy things as far as they can in order to win competitions.  Which is really quite inherently silly.  But in fairness, if these big lads want to throw stuff, who is really going to argue with that?  No one, that’s who.  Look at the flippin’ size of them!

Here’s a gif I made of one of the Swedish Heavies.  I hope you like it.

Categories: Blog Trips


  1. Ha- was there as well! G-friend won a comp and we were up on Bath St…lots of restaurants you would like up that direction I am sure! City was a lot better than I was expecting and did finally make it down to the championships when Lawrence O’Toole were playing- they were good but don’t think I could have spent the whole day there. Downfall for us was a place called Yates-went in for a quick burger and the cheap drink was too hard to resist!
    Surprised that we didn’t cross paths there but no surprise that I happened to see you from the bus on the way home on Westmoreland St today!

    • That’s hilarious! Can’t believe we didn’t see each other over there, it’s a small enough place. We really loved Glasgow, it’s a great spot. Our favourite place was Cafe Gandolfi over in Merchant City, a restaurant cafe and bar, so amazing. Posting pics from our dinner there today!

  2. Hi Aoife,

    Re: The Statue outside Glasgow MOMA.
    I think in the 10 years I lived there I never saw it without the cone hat. I just figured it was part of the art gallery, some kind of artistic statement or something!

    • Hah! Nothing like a cone to convey an artistic message. We noticed that it had been placed there on the Friday night so we figured it was the work of artistic drunkards :)