Cowal Highland Gathering 2020 cancelled

Cowal Highland Gathering heavy events 2018.

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The Board of Cowal Highland Gathering (CHG) has taken the decision to cancel this year’s event, as a result of the ongoing coronavirus situation.

CHG chairman Ronnie Cairns stressed it was the right one to protect the safety of the competitors and visitors who come from across the globe to be part of the 126-year-old event, as well as protecting the integrity of the world-famous event.

‘This is the announcement we desperately hoped we wouldn’t have to make,’ he said.

Cowal Highland Gathering is home to the World Highland Dancing Championships, Cowal Pipe Band Championship and Cowal International Heavy Athletics Championship, attracting in excess of 1,000 competitors each year.

Mr Cairns added: ‘Up until the last moment we have been working hard to put together a Gathering which delivers the spectacle we are famous for, while also supporting local businesses which benefit from the number of people the event brings to the area.

‘However, it has become clear that substantial travel restrictions will remain in place for some considerable time. This would have a devastating effect on our international Highland Dancing competitors in particular and would damage the integrity of the World Highland Dancing Championships.

‘At the start of this pandemic we were hopeful we would be able to host this year’s event. As time went on we looked at ways of staging the Gathering in a different format for 2020 but there are just too many uncertainties, together with the potential impact that staging the event could have on the emergency services and other key partners, and the time is now right to cancel this year’s event.

‘We are extremely sorry to disappoint all the thousands of people who compete in, visit as spectators or volunteer at the Gathering – as well as the wider Cowal population who so look forward to the event every year.

‘We share their sadness, but will look forward to welcoming everyone back here in August next year.’

The decision to cancel this year’s Gathering has been made in discussion with key stakeholders and organisations.

Chairman of the Royal Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (RSOBHD) Christine Lacey MBE said: ‘This has been a heart-breaking decision.

‘There are Highland Dancers across the world who have been practicing all year to have the opportunity to dance on Cowal’s famous dancing boards.

‘However, as much as we all love the World Highland Dancing Championships, the health, the safety and the well being of all dancers, teachers, adjudicators, pipers, event supporting colleagues and the general public must absolutely be our paramount concern.

‘We also have to be mindful of the economic situation going forward from this pandemic both from the financial aspect from everyone’s perspective and from the ability for anyone to travel safely both domestically and

‘We hope this cancellation will mean that we can all meet up again in 2021 where we can embrace the love and respect we all have within our Highland Dancing global community and all be able to compete safely against the best in the world.’

Tickets already purchased for this year’s event will be valid for 2021, but if anyone has any questions please contact the CHG office at

People have been gathering in Dunoon on the last weekend of August since 1894, and this is the only time the event has been cancelled apart from the War years.

The 2021 Cowal Highland Gathering will return to Dunoon Stadium from Thursday 26-Saturday 28 August.