Beechworth Celtic Festival 2018

The Featured Image was taken by Lynn Buck at the Tattoo.

One of the bigger events on our calendar is the Beechworth Celtic Festival – big day of performances that has for the last two years culminated in a Tattoo. The run through from my perspective is always a solid hit out.

We started at 10am – full band ready to go (more or less) and tuned the pipes.


The magic of the tuning practice. Photo by Erin Smith (nee Allenby).

A brief rest and then another tune of everything, and we were off for our first performance at the market area near the big rock. A crowd was already there waiting, and it built quite satisfyingly as we played. Beautiful conditions too – sunny but not too hot and the pipes were fairly well behaved. As the Pipe Major you’re always worried about big sound changes as things warm up or band members get nervous out in front of the crowd. Fortunately we did not have any issues like this and after a solid set, headed out at the march through the market where we broke off.

Video by Heather McMillan

With half an hour to our next performance I wanted a quiet spot to check sound etc and we found one nearby. Several big issues had to be addressed as pipes that had warmed up were not behaving themselves. A 15 minute tuning session and we were back on track. We trotted down then and performed in the Town Hall garden which is a lovely setting.


Photo by Phil Smailes. AWPD Bass Drummer Neil watching the PM

There were very few people here but again, a crowd built around us as we played. Gratifyingly (after so much work) one tune in particular – The Atholl and Breadalbane Gathering was possibly the best we’ve ever played it. It was another solid performance and then on to get drinks and get ready for the massed bands at the Police Paddocks. By this time, the warmth of the day was definitely dehydrating and we were all ready for a drink and a break, but it was not to be!

Video by Heather McMillan

Massed bands were well received with many people watching. Under the circumstances of tight timelines, building warmth and the tattoo practice/performance still to complete it was relatively short. Our third performance completed and it was time for a break, then practice for the tattoo.

Back to the Old Gaol for the practise after a wee break and we endured three hours in and out of the sun, playing/marching/fixing/re-doing…. in short, all the fun stuff one does prior to a performance. We had finished by 5:30 and had a bit of a spell. The local rotary put on a BBQ for us and the burgers were excellent indeed and the canned local spring water was also very refreshing.

The members of all bands came together for a massed tuning of pipes and a final run through of some of the trickier sets – hammering things together into some sort of unison. And we were off for the start of the Tattoo! We charged in with much pomp and circumstance (see the Featured Image for a view of the massed bands and below) and played for an appreciative crowd. Two hours later we stepped back out for the finale. The full cast was surprisingly big and the last tunes were well received.


Massed bands during the Tattoo. Photo by Lynn Buck

Thanks to Chris Earl and the Beechworth Celtic Festival organising committee – they did a great job with it all and a big thanks to all the members of AWPD who were there or who supported the band during this huge day.

As always, if you’d like to share photos or videos with the band, email us at or see our page on Facebook!