With less than a month until The Royal National Mòd returns to Paisley for the first time in 10 years, organisers are raring to showcase and celebrate the very best in Gaelic culture. Taking place between Friday 13th – Saturday 21st October 2023, the Mòd is internationally recognised as the jewel in the crown of Gaelic competition and cultural spectacle.
The world’s biggest Gaelic festival is not just for those who are competing, however, as Celtic music, art and sport are all celebrated with an array of exciting fringe activities and events over the course of its eight days.
A chance for the whole family to appreciate the beautiful and rich heritage of Scotland, this year’s Royal National Mòd has a vibrant programme of activities, performances and exhibitions to entertain visitors of all ages and interests. Here are the 10 top picks of things to see and do this year:
1. Opening Concert
The Mòd 2023 Opening Concert, taking place on Friday 13th October, promises to be an enthralling night of music, singing and dancing, with some of the finest talent in Gaeldom
giving a taste of what is to come over the course of the week.
Hosted at Paisley Town Hall, the concert will be headlined by MG Alba Folk Band of the Year Breabach, one of Scotland’s most skilled and imaginative contemporary acts, to kick off Mòd Phàislig in style.
2. Mòd Shinty Cups
Taking place on Saturday 14th October from 10:30am at the King George V Pitches in Renfrew, young players from across the Central Belt will compete for the Mòd Shinty Youth Cup, before the women’s match gets underway at 12pm when Alba, the Scottish Gaelic international select will play against a Glasgow select in a showcase 12 a-side match for the Women’s Shinty Mòd Cup.
The men’s cup match will begin at 2pm, with Glasgow University marking 20 years since they last won a major trophy competing against a new, yet old club, Strachur, Dunoon, who came together in 2021 to preserve the playing of shinty in their communities. Free to attend, this event is sure to be one to get sporting fans excited.
3. Our Language Our Music Concert
Showcasing the best of traditional music and Gaelic culture with talent from Renfrewshire and beyond, this showcase concert at Paisley Town Hall on the evening of Saturday 14th October will include young musicians from Fèis Phàislig and the Renfrewshire Schools Pipe Band.
The Glasgow Gaelic Association will feature alongside some of Scotland’s finest Gaelic singers including Ainsley Hamill and Joy Dunlop. There will also be performances from the Kilbarchan Pipe Band, as well as the talented Shetland musical duo of fiddle player Jenna Reid and pianist Harris Playfair rounding off a spectacular lineup.
4. Gaelic Nature Walk
A chance to experience Paisley’s oldest public gardens centred around the Grand Central Fountain on Sunday 15th October, this walk will be led by award-winning Gaelic singer-songwriter Alasdair Whyte, who will be discussing Gaelic folklore and teaching the Gaelic names for the trees, plants, animals, birds and features seen in the park. A great opportunity to learn new Gaelic phrases and get out and about in green spaces across the Renfrewshire town.
5. Battle of the Bands
This year’s Mòd sees the return of the fierce Battle of the Bands competition, showcasing the emerging talent on the Gaelic and traditional music scene. The heats will take place on Monday 16th October at The Sanctuary at Re:Hope Church, before the final on Tuesday 17th October, where the successful finalists will battle it out for the top prize of studio time at JJ Recordings Studio in Paisley. A fantastic chance to see the next generation of Celtic talent take to the stage.
6. Welcome Cèilidh
Taking place at the Tannahill Centre in Ferguslie on Thursday 19th October, in partnership with the School of African Cultures, everyone is welcome to come along and celebrate the Royal National Mòd at this free event. Featuring a diverse range of music acts, cèilidh dancing, food and stories from around the world, the Welcome Céilidh encourages communities from all cultures to share stories in their native languages mixed with Gaelic.
7. Paisley Patter
Taking place at Paisley Town Hall on Thursday 19th October, this one-off scratch night by GUIR! associated artist Martin O’Connor will feature spoken word and songs in the languages of Scotland, old and new, with guest Gaelic performers providing a humorous look at language evolution, explored through spoken letters to Paisley and Glasgow. A night that is sure to entertain locals and those from across Scotland alike.
8. Highland Art Prize Exhibition and Competition
Art will once again be in the mix at this year’s Mòd, with this year’s Highland Art Prize entrants on display at The Briggait Hall in Glasgow from Friday 13th – Saturday 21st October.
A digital presentation, led by judge Ishbel Murray, of the 10 shortlisted artworks will take place at Paisley Town Hall at 12:30pm on Thursday 19th October, offering a chance to see them outside of Glasgow, before the winner is announced at The Briggait Hall at 12:30pm on Friday 20th October.
9. Massed Choirs
One of the final events of Mòd Phàislig 2023 will see massed choirs gather outside Paisley Town Hall on Saturday 21st October. Bringing all the choirs who have competed across the week together to sing in unison and celebration, this is a truly joyful and moving spectacle. All are welcome to join the talented singers for a moment of reflection as they usher in the final day of the world-renowned festival.
10. Mòd Festival Club
A new addition to the Mòd programme this year, the Festival Club at The Sneddon in Paisley is the ideal place to carry on the fun once the day’s events are over, catch up with friends and enjoy everything the Mòd and the town have to offer in a welcoming and lively environment.
Sponsored by Isle of Skye Candle Company and featuring a variety of pop-up live music sessions and entertainment each day of the festival, from the likes of The Canny Band, 2023 SAY Award Long List artist Brìghde Chaimbeul and many more, the Festival Club is free to enter and open to all.
James Graham, Chief Executive Officer of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “With just over three weeks to go before The Royal National Mòd in Paisley gets underway, we’re so excited to share a taste of the fringe events on offer for all the family this year. From music to art and sports to comedy, there really is something for everyone. We would encourage people to have a look at the full programme to plan out their time in Paisley and the surrounding areas, whether they’re locals making the most of having the Mòd on their doorstep, or are travelling from further afield to join in the celebrations. We look forward to welcoming everyone to Renfrewshire very soon for the premier celebration of Gaelic language, music and culture.”
The Royal National Mòd is supported by EventScotland, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Renfrewshire Council, EventScotland, The Scottish Government, HIE, Creative Scotland, Caledonian MacBrayne, BBC ALBA, The Reeling and SQA.
The Royal National Mòd runs in Paisley from Friday 13th to Saturday 21st October 2023. To find out more about Mòd Phàislig events or to book tickets, visit www.modphaislig.com.