New venue is announced for the Ulster solos

Major Sinclair Memorial Pipe Band with Pipe Major John Fittis (left) pictured taking part in a Fundraising Concert in Holy Trinity Church, Carrickfergus

Major Sinclair Memorial Pipe Band with Pipe Major John Fittis (left) pictured taking part in a Fundraising Concert in Holy Trinity Church, Carrickfergus

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Details have been released of the 2016 Ulster Solo Piping and Drumming Championships.

There is a new venue this year with the competition being held for the first time in Lisnagarvey High School, Warren Gardens, Lisburn, on Saturday, April 16.

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association Northern Ireland Branch has released the competition syllabus through its website and entry forms are now available. It is important to note that all entry forms must returned by March 26.

Meanwhile, Cullybackey Pipe Band will be holding its 29th annual solo competitions on Saturday, April 9.

This long-running event is popular amongst solo competitors. Again the competition syllabus and entry form is available on the RSPBANI website.

Organisers of The Spring Gatherin have revealed further details of the bands which will feature in this year’s event.

Performers confirmed to date include Ravara Pipe Band, Major Sinclair Pipe Band, Portavogie Pipe Band, Ballinran Flute Band, Cahard Flute Band, Kellswater Flute Band and Coleraine Fife & Drum Band, Bailies Mills Accordion Band and Vow Accordion Band.

This is an exciting year for the event, which is supported by Tourism NI, as it will feature pipe, flute, silver and accordion bands as it branches out.

The 2016 Spring Gatherin will be held in the Ramada Hotel, Belfast, on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th April.

It is great to see a noticeable increase in the number of local concerts this year and I have details of two upcoming events in County Down that are sure to be of interest.

Hollymount Pipe band is holding a band concert in Crossgar War Memorial Hall on Saturday, March 19 at 8pm. Artists include Dunmore Silver (Ballynahinch), Legananny Accordion, Orangefield Flute (Kilkeel) and the host band themselves. Proceeds from the concert are going to charity. Admission is by ticket which are priced £5 and they are available from band members or payable at the door on the night.

Gransha Pipe Band os hosting a Fundraising Country Show which will be held in Dromore High School on April 15 at 7.45pm. There is quite an impressive line-up of artists in the show including Country Harmony, Boxcar Brian, Leonard Shields and the hosts themselves, Gransha Pipe Band.

Headlining the concert are the London born Benn Sisters who now live in Enniskillen. Carrie and Leanne Benn have a great following in Scotland and they are sure to be crowd pleasers as they perform a range of country songs and ballads. The event is being compered by Warren Smyth.

Tickets priced at £10 can be obtained from Andrea Laffin (028 9753 1023 or Mobile: 07597 679 976) or from a number of commercial outlets such as Grahams (Dromore and Rathfriland), Euro Spar (Dromara), Wray Cleaners (Banbridge) or 50 Shades of Hair (Lisburn).

A concert was held in Holy Trinity Church, Carrickfergus on Saturday 27th February to raise funds for the Boys’ Brigade Newport Headquarters, conference, training and residential centre at Culcavey Road, Hillsborough.

Organised by the East Antrim Battalion, the concert featured Major Sinclair Memorial Pipe Band with Pipe Major John Fittis and Ballyclare Male Voice Choir conducted by Paul Briggs and accompanied by Sheelagh Greer.

President of the East Antrim Battalion Drew Buchanan MBE welcomed the audience and thanked the band and choir members for providing an evening of great musical entertainment which concluded as choir accompanied by the band sang ‘Abide with me’. Members of the East Antrim Battalion executive served supper during the interval.