PUPILS from Applegrove Primary School are to take a leading role at Piping Hot Forres today.
The European Pipe Band hampionships will be held in the town’s Grant Park.
More than 70 children from P5, P6 and P7 will march in front of each of the 119 bands carrying plaques displaying the band’s name at the award ceremony which will conclude the event.
Because of the size of the crowd – which is expected to top 20,000 – it might otherwise have proved difficult to determine which band is entering the arena.
Lesley Meehan, head teacher at the Forres school, said: "Some of the bands have their names on the bass drum, but others don’t.
"The pupils will walk in front so that people know which band it is."
Gates open at 9am, with the first bands playing at 10am, and from then on there will be continuous piping in the four arenas until about 5pm, when they will all play in the massed pipe band, creating a sound that will be heard for miles around.
As well as almost 4,000 pipers and drummers, aged from seven to 80, there will be Highland dancing and drum major competitions.
New this year is a freestyle area where bands will show off their full range of skills outwith the competition arenas, and a ‘just try it’ centre for those who want to have a go on the bagpipes or drums.
There will also be a craft marquee, trade stalls, a food and drink hall, a tattie scone competition and a Piping Hot coffee shop serving light refreshments.
Parking restrictions will be in force around Grant Park, so a free park and ride system will operate throughout the day from the spectator car park at the Horizon Enterprise Park to the east of the town, just off the A96.
Those attending are advised to come prepared for the best and the worst of the weather, with waterproofs and sunscreen.
Ian Widdowson, chairman of organisers Forres Events Ltd, said: "This is the hottest ticket in Forres this month. To see and hear the best in piping and drumming out in Grant Park is really a spectacular sight and sound, and not to be missed.
"The team here, including all our volunteers, sponsors and supporters, want to make this a great family day out, so we urge you to come along and support your local band or just soak up the fantastic atmosphere."
More than 100 people from Forres and the surrounding area give their time free of charge to ensure that the event runs smoothly.
Tickets are priced £12 for adults, £8 for those aged from 12 to 17 and £10 for those aged 60 and over.
Children under 12 can enter free if accompanied by an adult.