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Gaelic language to be at the heart of boosting business for Inverness – with a return of the Massed Choirs at the Northern Meeting Park

By Louise Glen

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Inverness is looking forward to what could be its best week since lockdown as the Royal National Mòd rolls into town.

The event, due to run for nine days from October 8, will see a mix of online and in-person events with a reduced programme of children and adults competitions to be held at Eden Court.

Organisers have announced today, however, that the iconic Massed Choirs event will go ahead as normal.

The inspirational outdoor choir performance will take place at the Northern Meeting Park on October 16 at 10.30am.

The Mòd, the premier celebration of Gaelic culture, had been due to come to the Highland capital last year, but was postponed due to Covid.

City businesses are now gearing up for a major boost as it is finally set to take place, bringing hundreds of competitors and their supporters to town.

Inverness Business Improvement District manager Mike Smith said: “I am delighted that the Mòd is confirmed for its return to Inverness from October 8 for the first time since 2014.

“Having this major national event is a real boost to the local economy and is a real sign that we are continuing to return to the new normal.

“We are particularly looking forward to the Massed Choirs event in the Northern Meeting Park on Saturday, October 16.”

Many of the city’s hotels are reporting increased bookings ahead of the competition.

The Royal Highland Hotel in Station Square said it is full, but was looking forward to welcoming in those looking for meals.

A spokesman for the Columba Hotel in Ness Walk said: “We are much busier than we have been.”

And sales manager for the Pentahotel in Academy Street, Arnaud Dehaye, said: “At the moment we still have rooms available, but we are seeing a high demand for the mentioned dates.”

Other hospitality venues are also confident of a boost from the event which, in 2014, brought an estimated £3 million to the city economy.

At Johnny Foxes, Lucy MacGillivray said: “We want to welcome everyone down, and we have got on some great music for people to enjoy.

“We hope to see lots of great craic with people.”

For many, the Massed Choirs gathering will be a real highlight, bringing together choirs from across the country and also featuring a display from the City of Inverness Pipe Band.

The performance is free and will be open to all, with this year’s outing to take place 30 years on from the first mass event in Dingwall.

James Graham, chief executive of organisers An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “We can’t wait to put Gaelic culture in the spotlight again with this year’s Royal National Mòd. The hybrid approach of in-person and online events means that there is something for everyone.

“We’re delighted to include the addition of an outdoor Massed Choirs performance to this year’s programme, and close the events in a traditional and poignant style.

“It is always a joy to witness and will be extra special this year for those performing – the perfect event to finish off an incredible week.”

Chairman of Highland Council’s Gaelic committee, Councillor Calum Munro, said: “Hopefully we have a stunning autumn morning in which to enjoy the event, and that all participants and spectators can begin their journey home reflecting on a fantastic Royal National Mòd in Inverness.”

Jackie Cotter, chairwoman of the Gaelic Choirs’ Association, said: “All of the groups involved in the Massed Choirs event are really looking forward to performing in Northern Meeting Park this October.

“It will be a really special performance to round off the incredible festival, especially as many of the choirs have not performed for an audience for a very long time.”

The full Mòd programme can be viewed at www.ancomunn.co.uk, with tickets available from Eden Court.

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