The kilts are packed, the pipes tuned and the Highland dancers are limbering up - the stage is set as final preparations for Pipefest get underway. Taking place this Friday (27 June) the spectacular event will celebrate the Year of Homecoming and mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.
Over 1,650 participants from across the world including pipe bands, Highland dancers and clan members are travelling from as far afield as Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.
The parade which kick-starts Stirling’s Big Weekend featuring Bannockburn Live (Saturday and Sunday), Armed Forces Day National Event (Saturday) and Stirling's Big Night Out (Saturday) will start from the gates of Stirling Castle and proceed through the ancient City of Stirling. Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to descend on the city during the weekend.
Aberdeenshire-born Pipe Major Ian Duncan will lead thousands of stalwarts of Scottish heritage and tradition with Europe’s only private army - the 175-year-old regiment Atholl Highlanders Pipe Band and Colour Guard.
Visiting Scotland from the USA for the first time will be the popular Columbus Police and Fire Pipes and Drums, which is made up entirely of active, full-time Columbus police officers and firefighters. The Greater Victoria Police Pipe Band from Canada will also have over fifty players take part on Friday evening.
The largest group travelling to take park is Dunedin High School Scottish Highlanders from Florida with over 125 participants.
Over twenty five Scottish Clans have registered to take part in the parade including the Clan Currie Society from the USA, Clan MacNicol and Clan McMillan from Australia and the Clan Henderson Society from the USA. Clan Moffat, Clan Arthur, Clan Urquhurt, Clan Bell, Clan Oliphant will also be taking part on Friday as well as local dancers from the Julie Young School of Dancing in Perth and the Theresa Kelly School of Highland Dance.
Closer to home, a number of pipe bands will also take part including bands from Dalkeith, Blairgowrie, Hawick Scout Pipe Band, Forfar and District Pipe Band and The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Association "Balaklava" Pipes & Drums. From England, pipe bands including Harpenden, Scunthorpe, Plymouth and Oldham will also parade through the streets of Stirling.
Pipefest is supported by Homecoming Scotland, The Famous Grouse Experience and Stirling Council.
Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said:
“Pipefest Scotland is an exciting addition to the packed programme of events taking place during our second Year of Homecoming, with participants and visitors from around the globe taking part in the parade on the eve of the Bannockburn Live event.
“Alongside a stunning re-enactment of the battle itself, Bannockburn Live – a key fixture in the Homecoming Scotland 2014 calendar commemorating the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn – will feature a programme packed with Scottish music, food and drink, crafts, literature and outdoor activities for people of all ages.
“Scotland is welcoming the world in 2014. Homecoming Scotland 2014 now includes over 880 events, happening the length and breadth of the country, extending the benefits of the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games and positioning Scotland on the international stage as a dynamic and creative country with a rich history and culture.”