The International Bagpipe Day celebration is, effectively, a celebration of everything to do with bagpipes and bagpipe history. International Bagpipe Day is the yearly celebration on March 10th of this unique instrument. Even if you don’t know anything about Scotland and Scottish culture, you’re sure to have heard of - and heard - bagpipes before. Bagpipes can be found in many culturally significant places, including:
- The Queen's Own McKamikaze Highlanders from Monty Python’s Flying Circus
- The One With Joey's New Brain, the Friends episode where Ross plays the bagpipes
That brief list shows the range of where bagpipes have shown up worldwide. Whether you’re a die-hard Scotland fan, or you just really love Monty Python, you’ve seen bagpipes in some form or another.
What is International Bagpipe Day?
So, what is International Bagpipe Day? The practice of International Bagpipe Day started out in 2012. The International Bagpipe Organization and The Bagpipe Society co-founded the celebration of bagpipes on March 10th. They started this tradition to bring more awareness to this instrument that’s been around for as long as time remembers. Those organizations have been breathing more life into the bagpipes since 1986. Their goal is to bring the bagpipe to new players, to keep the traditions alive. The founding of International Bagpipe Day was done to bring more awareness to the bagpipes as an instrument. On the first International Bagpipe Day celebration, bagpipe players were reported to be gathering in places ranging from South Africa to Greece. To this day, International Bagpipe Day continues to gather bagpipe players and fans across the globe.
Are Bagpipes Scottish or Irish?
When you search for bagpipes online, this question of are bagpipes Scottish or Irish is a common one people ask. The truth is, they’re both. While many people may believe that bagpipes are uniquely Scottish instruments, they’re actually a worldwide instrument. Technically, the history of the bagpipe goes back so far, we don’t actually know when and where the instrument started out. It is, however, widely believed that the bagpipe started out in Egypt long before they moved to Scotland. These days, both Scotland and Ireland have a lot of heritage and traditional practices tied to the bagpipe. That said, they play very different sets of pipes. The Scots created the Highland Bagpipe, and that remains what they play most often. For the Irish, the Uilleann pipes are their bagpipe of choice. While the bagpipe is generally regarded as something intrinsically tied to Scotland, the instrument has made its way around the world. There are over 130 unique types of bagpipes from Scotland to Ireland and beyond.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on the ties between Scotland and bagpipes. A great way to focus your celebration of International Bagpipe Day on Scotland is to spend some time in a Scottish pub. If you’re in Scotland, you’ll already know these places, but we’ll share them anyway, just in case. Some great Scottish pubs in Scotland include:
- Clachaig Inn
- The Snow Goose
- Dreel Tavern
- The Drake
- The Boat Inn
That said, a lot of people looking to celebrate today are in the US. For those of you who are scattered across the country, this list covers places across the states. Some great US Scottish pubs include:
- Molly MacPherson's Scottish Pub & Grill in Georgia
- Macleod’s Scottish Pub in Seattle
- The Scottish Arms in St. Louis
- Highlander Scottish Pub in Tennessee
- Caledonia Bar in New York
And there are so many more! Wherever you’re celebrating from, there’s a Scottish pub near you.
If you’re just looking to celebrate at home, a good choice is to pick up some great Scottish beers. Some good options are:
- Swannay’s Old Norway
- Fyne Ales’ Jarl
- Windswept’s Wolf
- Caledonian’s Deuchars IPA
- BrewDog’s Elvis Juice
- Innis & Gunn
- Dark Island
- Harviestoun's Bitter and Twisted
Whether you’re familiar with Scottish brews or they’re completely new to you, you can’t go wrong with a sample from this selection.
International Bagpipe Day Celebration: Ways to Celebrate
You might choose to enjoy your nearest Scottish pub. Perhaps you'll pick up some brews to enjoy at home while you watch Monty Python. Either way, there's no wrong way to celebrate International Bagpipe Day. If you have a set of pipes, play along. If not, simply enjoy this day the best way you can, and enjoy some Scottish, Irish, or any bagpipe heritage you choose.