Three of Scotland's top Celtic musicians joined pipe bands and Celtic dancers from around South Africa this weekend to celebrate the third Knysna Celtic Festival – and the event is beginning to draw interest from performers from other countries, too.
“The Festival is growing - with numbers at the Friday night ceilidh and Saturday night concert substantially up on last year,” said Jo Stewart, who organises the festival together with Pipe Major Steve Collins of the Knysna & Districts Pipe Band.
She said that the ceilidh (traditional Celtic social evening) is an invitation-only affair designed to welcome visiting performers and their friends and families. “We had about 600 guests this year – an increase of around 200 over 2016 – and we estimate that 400 of them were visitors to Knysna.”
The evening was sponsored by Belvidere Manor – which recreated its Bell Tavern at Loerie Park for the duration of the Festival.
Pipe Major Collins said that nine pipe bands – and musicians from two other bands – came from as far afield as Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape Province, and Cape Town to play at the Festival.
“The Festival features the only slow-to-quick-march street competition in the country – in which each of the bands appears individually – and more than 150 musicians marched in this year's Massed Pipes and Drums Parade,” he said.
Saturday's Highland Gathering at Loerie Park sponsored by Lew Geffen | Sotheby’s International Realty, Knysna, included various piping, drumming, and Highland dance competitions, as well as Irish and Scottish Country dancing displays, a regional 3D archery tournament organised by the Knysna Outdoor Archery Circuit, the Knysna Highland Games powered by The Gym, Knysna, and the Eden District Tug-of-War championship.
“The Tug-of-War alone attracted about 350 competitors – mostly from the junior teams (the seniors season hasn't opened yet), but the seniors have indicated that they're keen to join us next year, too,” said Ms. Stewart.
For many lovers of Celtic music, highlights of this year's Festival included performances by Captain (Retired) Stuart Samson MBE (the director of the Massed Pipes and Drums at both Switzerland's Basel Tattoo and Germany's Berlin Tattoo), as well as the Glasgow-based master piper Finlay MacDonald, and award-winning Shetland fiddler Chris Stout – all of whom travelled from Scotland specifically for the event.
“It was a huge honour to hear Capt. Samson play his own melody, ‘Heart of a Gordon Highlander’ - which is one of our own band's favourite competition pieces – at Saturday evening’s Sundowners Celtic & Bluegrass Concert,” said Pipe Major Collins.
He said that a three-piece Celtic band from Brittany and a nine-piece Celtic band from Zimbabwe have indicated their desire to attend next year's gathering.
“It's significant that they approached us – because this tells us that the Festival is developing a reputation amongst Celtic musicians around the world.”
CEO of Knysna & Partners, Greg Vogt, congratulated the organisers on the success of the event.
“Thank you for bringing a significant number of visitors to the town, and for an exciting and entertaining weekend. We're looking forward to seeing an even bigger event, with even more international visitors in 2018,” he said.
The Knysna & Districts Pipe Band will announce the dates for next year's Knysna Celtic Festival shortly.
Street March Competition: First - 1st Medical Battalion Pipe Band (Durban); Second - Knysna & Districts Pipe Band; Third - Cape Town Highlanders
Pipe Band Competition: First - 1st Medical Battalion Pipe Band, Second - Knysna & Districts Pipe Band; Third - Cape Town Highlanders
Quartets: 1st Medical Battalion Pipe Band
Champion Solo Piper: Richard Payne
Highland Games: First – Team 3 Girls & 1 Guy; Second - Emerald Lads, Third – Kloppers
Highland Dancing Competition: Premier Section winner - Shendl Leahy (Johannesburg); Novice Section winner - Erin Johnston (Cape Town); Beginner Section winner - Jada-Nicole Simons (East London)
Media release for Knysna & Partners by
Martin Hatchuel of www.thistourismweek.co.za
084 951 0574