The story for 2023….

Band of the Royal Air Force College

Director of Music: Squadron Leader Richard A Murray, BMus (Hons), LRSM,

Royal Air Force Music Services was established in 1918 by Sir Henry Walford Davies and comprises three Regular Bands, a Salon Orchestra and a Reserve Band. Based at RAF Northolt and RAF Cranwell, RAF Music provides optimum musical support for the Royal Air Force in order to enhance public perception, support State Ceremonial and achieve influence to further Defence and National interests.

Delta Police Pipe Band, Canada

The Delta Police Pipe Band was formed in 1971 by members of the Delta Police Department in the City of Delta, near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The original band consisted of 9 pipers and 6 drummers. Since its inception the band has grown to 50 members and is now one of the largest Police Pipe Bands in Canada. The band celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 2021.

The founding principles of the band include honouring all fallen peace officers, community involvement, and representing the Delta Police Department and the City of Delta as ambassadors in all public performances locally, nationally, and on the International stage.

The band consists of 30 pipers and 20 drummers and is presently under the direction of Pipe Major Steve Ramsden, Drum Major Ron McMillan, and Drum Major Moe Coll. The Commanding Officer of the band is Delta Police Chief Constable Neil Dubord.

The band had the esteemed honour to perform on three occasions with Sir Paul McCartney in Vancouver B.C. accompanying him on the performance of Mull of Kintyre, once in 2013 and 2 shows in 2016. One of the You Tube videos of the 2013 performance with Sir Paul has received almost one million hits.

Other memorable events include performing for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II at Vancouver, British Columbia in 1983 and again in 2011 at the Royal Windsor International Tattoo. The band also played for Prince Charles and Princess Diana at the 1986 opening of the Vancouver World Exposition.

Some of the other band performances over the years include the following international events.

1994 Edinburgh Military Tattoo

1997/2004 Nova Scotia Military Tattoo

2006 Virginia International Tattoo

2007/2015 Netherlands Military Tattoo

2009 Basel International Tattoo

2011 Windsor Castle Royal Tattoo

2013 Musik Parade, Germany 10 city tour.

2015 Netherlands Military Tattoo, Holland

2018 Basel International Tattoo

2018 Estes Park, Colorado Celtic Fest and Tattoo

The band has also travelled extensively to other destinations throughout North America, including Hawaii, California, Washington and Oregon in the United States and multiple locations across Canada. 

Majesticks Drum Corp

Credit: @rawkingphoto

Born in June 2011, Majesticks quickly made a name for itself by organising numerous shows which marked the beginning of an incredible evolution for the percussion group.

Indeed, in 2013, Majesticks had the chance to perform in the Avenches arena in front of the 20,000 spectators of the Avenches Tattoo.

The success of the show was overwhelming and the audience was fascinated, allowing the band to export their talents beyond national borders with performances in Germany, France, Malta, Russia, Liechtenstein and now into Northern Ireland.

Calgary Police Pipe Band

Making their second appearance at the Belfast Tattoo, The Calgary Police Service Pipe Band was formed in 1973 by Sergeant Bill Crabbe and modelled after the Edinburgh Police Pipe Band. The Band’s first public performance was to lead the 1975 Stampede Parade.  Not only has the CPS Pipe Band been lucky enough to perform at countless events in Calgary and surrounding areas but also to have been invited for performances involving international travel.

The band competes in western Canada as a Grade 3 pipe band and has won many competitions throughout the years.

After a long global pandemic stand down, the Calgary Police Service Pipe Band has resumed practice, performance, competition, and travel.

Auckland Police Pipe Band 

Formed in 1945, Auckland Police Pipe Band is one of 2 police bands in New Zealand. The Band
is comprised of police and civilian members from around New Zealand, and aims to assist rapport
between the public and police, and to showcase top musical talent in piping and drumming.
The Band is a regular Grade 3 competitor on the domestic pipe band competition circuit, and
wears the King George VI Tartan.
Overseas tours are an integral part of the Band’s non competing season and they have travelled
widely to Alaska, Japan, Canada, Indonesia, Hawaii, Washington, China, Scotland, Switzerland
and Australia.
In addition to overseas engagements, the Band assists the NZ Police with Pay Parades, Award
Ceremonies, Funerals and Weddings and participates in many Christmas Parades, Cultural
Festivities and Community events.

Ballygowan Pipe Band

Ballygowan Pipe Band was formed in 1946 in the village of Ballygowan, just outside Belfast in Northern Ireland.  They play the Brian Boru pipes which are derived from the great highland bagpipes – invented by Henry Starck. 

Henry Starck Sr. was involved with William O’Duane of Dungannon (Northern Ireland) in the development and manufacture of a new type of bagpipe. These new pipes were originally advertised as the Dungannon pipes, the forerunner to the ‘Brian Boru’ pipes.  They could be played on the march, had a complete chromatic scale, and were described as having been ‘revived from the ancient Irish bagpipe’ and being ‘the most perfect bagpipe made’.

There are various models of Brian Boru pipes available with several different key set ups however Ballygowan have opted for the 3 key version.  They have a 3 drone setup consisting of a Bass, Tenor and Baritone which gives them a rich and fuller tenor tone. The overall sound from the Brian Boru Pipes will sound different to the great highland bagpipes which some describe as being a little flatter than what you may be used to. 

There are only 6 Brian Boru pipe bands in existence who still perform today, and Ballygowan Pipe Band are extremely proud to continue the tradition of this unique and wonderful instrument and look forward to being the first Brian Boru pipe band to perform at the Belfast International Tattoo!

Belfast International Tattoo Highland Dance Team 2023

Kathryn Stewart’s Highland Dance Display Team NI 

Kathryn Stewart, former Ulster Champion, has been teaching for 12 years in various locations throughout Northern Ireland. These locations include, Enniskillen, Kilkeel, Larne, Loughbrickland, Auchnacloy, to name a few. 

Dancers from these various locations take part in annual examinations through the United Kingdom Alliance (UKA) and regularly compete at competitions throughout Northern Ireland and further afield. 

Alongside competitions, dancers from these groups often come together to perform at events throughout the country. In addition to the groups, Kathryn also single-handedly teaches in numerous primary schools throughout the region which including her groups amounts to a total of 600 dancers being taught each week.

The highland dance groups tutored by Kathryn Stewart include the following:

Erne Highland Dancers (Enniskillen)

Finnard Highland Dancers (Finnard)

Heart of Down Highland Dancers (Ballynahinch) 

Hilltop Highland Dancers (Aughnacloy) 

Kathryn Stewart School of Highland Dancing (Larne) 

Kathryn Stewart School of Highland Dancing (Loughbrickland) 

Kirknarra School of Dance (Annalong)

Kirknarra School of Dance (Kilkeel)

Representatives from each of these groups are coming together to form the Belfast International Tattoo Highland Dance Team 2023.

Major Sinclair Memorial Pipe Band

The Major Sinclair Memorial is named after Major John Maynard Sinclair the Ulster Unionist Finance minister who lost his life in the Princess Victoria ferry disaster in 1953. The band was formed in 1957 with amalgamation of the William Johnston Memorial and the Emanuel Pipe bands, both were Belfast bands and the Sinclair stayed in Belfast until the 1970s when they moved to Newtownabbey and now meet in Doagh Ballyclare.

Major Sinclair wear the Ancient Hunting Sinclair tartan and have bands which compete in grade 4B and grade 3A competitions at home and in Scotland.

The Sinclair can also be found playing at various parades, festivals and summer concerts.

The band attended the Interceltique festival in Lorient in 2014 with great success and were crowned 4A World Champions at the world Championships in Glasgow a year later.

The band was awarded charitable status in 2017 in recognition of its community contribution and work with young people of the area.

2021 seen the band come under new leadership with Nigel O’Neill appointed as Pipe Major and Mark Armstrong as drum sergeant. These talented men have built on the strong foundations of the band resulting in a very successful 2022 season, winning the British Championships and finishing strongly in all contests entered. The band also enjoyed a trip to perform in the 2022 Avenches Tattoo impressing all concerned and making many new friends, not least with the members of the Boghall and Bathgate pipe band.

Flying Grandpas

The Flying Grandpas are a group of 13 police officers from the Hamburg Police Force who come with a spectacular and humoristic trampoline show. Through a combination of gymnastic apparatus which includes two trampolines they perform a series of daring flips and other tricks but there is always someone who is stepping out of the line!

The Flying Grandpas are a popular addition to our Tattoo line up having performed with us several times before!

Scottish Fiddle Orchestra

The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra is one of Scotland’s foremost traditional music organisations. The Orchestra was formed in 1980, deriving its origins from Fiddlers’ Rallies which were – and are – held throughout the country. After one of these Rallies, a group of enthusiasts met to consider the formation of an orchestra which would draw its members from a’ the airts and would form a cohesive, vigorously rehearsed group of musicians.

A small number of other ‘special’ concerts are also undertaken each year and the Orchestra has also toured to Ireland, Canada, China, Australia, New Zealand, Orkney and Shetland.

The members were delighted when, in December 1993, Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, agreed to be the Orchestra’s patron.

The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra will be performing for the first time at the Belfast International Tattoo in 2023.

Kellswater Flute Band

Kellswater Flute Band was founded in 1947 in the townland of Tullynamullan four miles South of
Ballymena. The Band takes its name from the Kellswater River which flows close to where it was formed.

Originally Kellswater was a melody flute band, progressing to part music and then to concert flutes.

Their first contest win was in Portadown in 1952 and over the years Kellswater went on to become F.B.A.
Grade 1 Irish Champions, S.A.F.B.A. Grade 1 Scottish Champions and N.I.B.A. World Champions.

Kellswater are heavily invested in the local community, providing tuition for flute and percussion and regularly attend engagements for various organisations, charities and bodies.

The Band also travel extensively having performed in Gibraltar, Crete and Gran Canaria and have taken part in the Lord Mayor’s Show London on two occasions. In 2022 they had the honour of leading The Northern Ireland Centenary Parade in their 75th Anniversary year.

This year Kellswater attended a number of ceremonies in France and Belgium to commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War I.

2023 sees the Band return to The Belfast International Tattoo, having performed there previously in 2017.

Ballywalter Flute Band

Ballywalter Flute Band is from the picturesque seaside village on the Ards Peninsula, formed in 1953 it is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year and is delighted to be performing at this year’s Belfast International Tattoo along with the Kellswater Flute Band from County Antrim.  In common with many local leading bands, Ballywalter Flute Band had its origins in the local Boys Brigade.

The band has a reputation for obtaining a high standard of musicianship and deportment both on the contest stage and street parades.

Membership of the band ranges in age from 10 to 80 years old.

The band has won many awards over the years including 3 World Championships, and it currently competes very successfully in the Grade 2 Section of the annual North of Ireland Band Association and Flute Band Association contests.

The band last appears at the Belfast International Tattoo along with Churchill Flute Band in 2019.  The members are delighted and excited to be given the opportunity to join with Kellswater Flute Band at this year’s show.  We hope you enjoy our performance.