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World Record for Stonehaven Folk Festival

At last year’s Stonehaven Folk Festival an attempt was made to establish a record for the World’s Largest Ceilidh Band. On 6th July, 288 players turned up to Mackie Academy in the town and played for 22 dancers. This January, the festival was officially notified that their attempt was successful, and they are now Guinness World Record Holders.

It took much planning to meet the stringent requirements for the attempt. Forms had to be filled and strict evidence protocols followed. Stewards, counters, dancers, video photographers and even Aberdeenshire’s Lord Provost were needed to ensure the event met the challenge. Nerves were taut as the July attempt date approached. Guinness World Records require a minimum of 250 participants for any mass participation record to be set.

Meanwhile Scottish Culture and Tradition tutor Sandy Tweddle, who was musical director on the day, was teaching all his pupils the tunes for the ceilidh dance sets. Musicians came from all over Scotland, mostly from Aberdeen City and Shire but also England and even the USA and Germany.

There was the usual last-minute panic. T-shirts had been ordered both to identify the musicians and, cunningly, had music printed on the back to help the rows of players behind. But they did not arrive until literally minutes before the non-stop procession of tin whistles, guitars, bodhrans, banjos and fiddles appeared at the school hall. Jubilation at a faultless performance by the 288-strong band was followed by frustration over the following months: new records are not declared without stringent vetting of the evidence provided. So, it is with absolute triumph that the committee of Stonehaven Folk Festival now declare themselves ‘officially amazing’ - and they have the certificate to prove it.

Charlie West, the festival chairman, said: “At five o'clock, everyone was in the hall, the doors closed, and the attempt started. The MC, Martin Kasprowicz, did the introduction and Sandy introduced the first dance. Once the band struck up, the sound was incredible - all in tune, in time and everyone was smiling. It is hard to describe the feeling of elation in taking part. The whole event was over in about 30 minutes and everyone was on a high. We knew we had established a new world record. There was a great feeling all over the town afterwards and all the musicians and dancers proudly wore their T-Shirts in the concerts and sessions (I'm still smiling thinking about it all).

The official video from the successful attempt can be seen on YouTube here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VH4YFtRJZWk