The sights and sounds of Cowal Highland Gathering (CHG) entertained a global audience as Cowal’s Virtual Gathering beamed a three-day programme packed full of piping, highland dancing and heavy athletics across the world.

Lovers of highland games had been left disappointed as events were cancelled for a second year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Cowal’s Virtual Gathering 2020 had been such a resounding success, organisers took the decision to host another virtual three-day event for 2021.

This was a celebration of what we have to look forward to. While world champion highland dancers spoke candidly about the challenges of online lessons in a series of interviews, they also shared their top tips for staying motivated and focussed. An exclusive dance, choreographed by Rachel McLagan and performed by some of the world’s top highland dancers, was unveiled to huge acclaim and will surely inspire a whole new generation of future CHG competitors.

Donald MacPhee, one of the world’s finest solo pipers spoke passionately about his own career in piping and gave an insight into how the marriage of highland dancing and piping can be a lifelong love affair.

Fans of heavy athletics weren’t forgotten either as a special feature-length competition, filmed under COVID-19 restrictions, brought some of CHG’s best known competitors to Cowal’s Virtual Gathering where they showed how ready they are to get back into the Stadium to compete.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a highland gathering without a ceilidh and Inverhooley Ceilidh Band were online to entertain Gathering fans whether they were having a garden party or simply a lover of great traditional music.

Cowal Highland Gathering Chair Ronnie Cairns thanked everyone who joined Cowal’s Virtual Gathering saying: ‘When we signed off in August 2020 following the first virtual gathering we could not have predicted we would be back as a virtual event again this year.

‘However, I want to thank everyone who has so generously given their time, their photos, shared their memories and taken part in this year’s event. The CHG audience is like no other. They have the ability to lift competitors with their cheers and for the last two years they have lifted our virtual gathering organisers to put together a programme which is worthy of CHG.

‘Cowal Highland Gathering is a historic event for so many different reasons. It holds the world’s oldest pipe band trophies, it is the home of the World Highland Dancing Championships and it hosts Scotland’s only international heavy athletics championship.

‘In August 2020 we said Cowal’s Virtual Highland Gathering was now itself a historic event, when it became the world’s first three-day virtual Highland Gathering. We hope this year we’ll be consigning it to the history books.

‘If you joined us online we thank you from the bottom of hearts and we hope we can meet you in person in August 2022 when we can once again gather in Dunoon Stadium.”

If you missed any of Cowal’s Virtual Gathering you can catch up on Cowal Highland Gathering’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. The 2022 Cowal Highland Gathering will be held in Dunoon Stadium from Thursday 25 – Saturday 27 August 2022. For more details visit or email