THIS year the Inverness Provincial Mod at Eden Court Theatre, may be paving the way for the Royal National Mod which comes to the Highland Capital this autumn, but increasingly it is becoming a key date on the Gaelic cultural calendar in its own right.
"For the last six or seven years, entry numbers have shown a steady increase each year. Last year we thought we cannot get any bigger, but this year we have over 100 additional entries which takes it to over 1100 entries," Inverness Mod committee chairman Norrie Mackay said.
"There are a combination of reasons for that.
"With the Royal National Mod coming here in October, that’s certainly an attraction. Then, of course, Highland Council’s Gaelic policy with its Gaelic schools is beginning to feed through.
"We have qualified adjudicators and they will give people pointers they can use going into the Royal National Mod. The choirs especially make use of that."
The growth of Gaelic medium schools has also increased the age range of the Inverness Provincial Mod which now stretches from the youngest primary age pupil to adults well into pensionable age, covering drama, poetry and speech as well as music.
This might be classed as a local Mod, but entrants come to compete from a wide geographical area, including as far west as the isles of Skye and Lewis and Melvich in Sutherland in the north.
"It’s becoming more than just an Inverness Mod, but there are some areas that don’t have a national Mod so this is their opportunity to perform," Mackay added.
"It’s hugely encouraging, especially as these children are getting older. They are very confident in their Gaelic and from the adjudications that I have seen, standards are being maintained and improved in virtually every category."
The competition is now so big that the only city venue capable of hosting the Inverness Mod is Eden Court Theatre, but even then some events have been moved across the road to the Netley Centre at Highland Hospice.
"With the growth of the Mod we have problems — but good problems," Mackay said.
That includes raising funds to run the event and Mackay also expressed his thanks to Inverness Common Good Fund and construction company Tulloch for their support.
Friday is primarily the children’s day with Saturday mainly given over to the senior competitors.
There will also be a post-Mod ceilidh featuring Inverness Local Mod winners and the Monach Isle Dance Band at the British Legion, Huntly Street, Inverness, from 7.30pm on Saturday. Admission £7.
• Inverness Provincial Mod takes place in Eden Court from 9.30am on Friday and Saturday