Scottish and Canadian highland regiments were posted to Bermuda, a heavily defended colony of Great Britain, as part of its garrison force. Where the highlanders went, so did the bagpipers. Their rousing music can still be heard in Bermuda today.
Two local pipe bands emerged in the 1950s: the Bermuda Cadets Pipe Band, an army cadet-based group, wearing the Gordon tartan; and the Bermuda Pipe Band, a group of police and prison officers who wore the tartan of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie). In 1993, the two bands merged to form the Bermuda Islands Pipe Band, choosing the Gordon tartan for its uniform.
Today, there are about 20 pipers and drummers in the band, supported by a highland dancer group. The band performs a heavy schedule of public and private events, including Beating the Retreat ceremonies, Remembrance Day and police parades.
The band goes overseas about once a year, often with the Band & Corps of Drums of the Bermuda Regiment. They have performed at such events as the Nova Scotia International Tattoo; Musikshau der Nationen in Bremen, Germany; Virginia International Tattoo; and, most recently, Fortissimo, hosted by the Ceremonial Guard, Ottawa, Canada.
Free performances are given at noon each Monday from Nov. 1 to March 30, at Fort Hamilton, in what is known as the Skirling Ceremony. It winds up a walking tour organised by the Department of Cultural Affairs. The band also welcomes visitors to its practices every Wednesday evening at Saltus Grammar School in Hamilton. The Bermuda Islands Pipe Band performs under the command of Pipe Major Aidan Stones.