The Virtual Royal National Mòd 2020

What is the Royal National Mòd? 

The Royal National Mòd (the Mòd) is a festival of Gaelic song, arts and culture that takes place every year and is often labelled Scotland’s main Gaelic cultural festival. The Mòd, which organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach (The Highland Association), is a peripatetic festival, meaning it is hosted in a different town every year, giving communities all over Scotland the chance to engage with Gaelic culture. 

The Mòd is mostly made up of formal competitions for individuals and groups, such as piping, singing (both solo and for choirs), playing the fiddle, highland dancing, drama, storytelling and poetry. The competitions are split into Junior and senior categories, with the junior competitions taking place towards the beginning of the Mòd week and the senior competitions running later in the week.

Four young people in traditional dress highland dancing - photo from The View, Oban (obanview.com)

Usually, the entrants of the performance categories would take part in a formal competition, each getting a turn to perform live in front of the audience and judges. The judges score all of the competitors based on different factors, depending on the competition, and announce the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers. The placed finishers are then given a medal or trophy, again depending on the competition, and the winner is asked to perform at the evening Ceilidh (social gathering/concert) later that night.

The competitive events are also supported by a lot of non-competitive ‘Fringe’ events for the people who come together to celebrate the Mòd to enjoy, including performances from some of Scotland’s top traditional musicians and Gaelic singers.

A large crowd of Mòd-goers enjoying Celtic Praise 2019, one of the fringe events at the 2019 Royal National Mòd in Glasgow. - Photo taken from An Comunn Gàidhealach's website.

The Virtual Royal National Mòd 2020 

Like most events and festivals planned for 2020, the Royal National Mòd has been impacted by Coronavirus. Despite the restrictions that are in place and the need for social distancing, An Comunn Gàidhealach still want to celebrate and showcase Gaelic language, culture and music and have decided to host the first ever Virtual Royal National Mòd from Friday the 9th to Saturday the 17th of October, 2020, kicking-off with the official opening concert and a good mix of song, music and special guests and presented by Kirsteen Macdonald.

Kirsteen MacDonald presenting the weather on 'An Là', BBC Alba's Gaelic daily news program

A lot of changes have been made to the way the Mòd is going to be run, since it is now taking place online. An Comunn Gàidhealach decided that they still wanted to provide an opportunity for people to enter into as many of the competition categories as possible and people were asked to submit videos of their performances from the comfort of their own home.

All the performances will still be assessed by a panel of independent judges, but instead of giving the performers scores and announcing the top 3 finishers, the judges will award performers with ‘Exceptional’, ‘Highly Commended’ and ‘Commended’ performances. This means that even though the competitions can’t take place in person and be scored as usual, performers will still get the recognition they deserve for their hard work.

An Comunn Gàidhealach have also organised a number of online fringe events for this year’s Mòd, including conversations with writers and poets, artists showcasing the work they’ve done over lockdown, singing workshops and much, much more. All of the events are FREE to attend or take part in and since their being streamed to An Comunn Gàidhealach’s social media pages, you can either watch them live or catch up later on when you’ve got the time.

Every day of the Virtual Royal National Mòd 2020 is going to be full of fun, exciting and impressive performances and fringe activities – too many to list here! You can take a look at the full Mòd program on An Comunn Gàidhealch’s website and see which events you want to tune in for.

Where to Watch

Because the Virtual Royal National Mòd is being shared on An Comunn Gàidhealach’s social media accounts, you have a few options of where you’d prefer to tune in.

If you can't wait to start enjoying all that the Mòd has to offer, why not watch this episode of 'Taigh Ceilidh a' Mhòid' (The Mòd Ceilidh House)?

If yo want to see more episodes of 'Taigh Ceilidh a' Mhòid', you can find them on An Comunn Gàidhealach's YouTube page!

There are lots of ways you can support the Royal National Mòd, so if you want to do so you can find out more here.

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