Red Hot start for Gatherin’ of the Isles

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers will headline the Gatherin' of the Isles festival in April.
The Red Hot Chilli Pipers will headline the Gatherin' of the Isles festival in April.

The inaugural Gatherin’ of the Isles festival will be a loud one with confirmation that Scottish rockers ‘Red Hot Chilli Pipers’ will be headlining the event.

The festival, taking place in venues across Ballymena from April 24-26, is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.

It promises a weekend of music and dance with concerts, masterclasses, workshops and performances to celebrate the best in piping and traditional music from across the Isles.

The festival has been organised by Ballymena Borough Council as part of their Creative Citizens programme and in conjunction with the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association of NI.

Cllr Tommy Nicholl MBE, who brought the initial proposal to Council and who has been instrumental in its planning, said: “We have some of the best piping and drumming talent in the world in our borough. We hope to showcase this as well as to give local people the opportunity to learn from and listen to some of the most popular names in traditional music. The Gatherin’ of the Isles promises to be a diverse musical programme that offers something for everyone.”

Highlights so far include classical guitarist Pat McGoldrick, piping great Fred Morrison, Danny Monroe from Scottish folk rock group Runrig, chanteuse Caroline Moreaux and, of course, the winners of the ‘Scottish Live Act of the Year’ in both 2007 and 2010, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers.

On top of all this, a Fringe programme will include an eclectic mix of musicians in some unusual venues. There will be factory floor performances, barber shop harpists, bandstand fiddlers and shopping centre folk singers.

Ballymena Mayor Cllr Audrey Wales MBE said: “I am really looking forward to what promises to be a festive weekend of entertainment.

“The Gatherin’ of the Isles is a pilot project which has the potential to become an annual event, strengthening our cultural programme of events and bringing tourism to the borough. We would like to thank the RSPBANI and all those involved in helping deliver this exciting line up.”

More details, including ticket information, will be available from in the coming weeks.