If you want to enjoy five very different musical experiences in the first two months of 2017 then why not put these in your diary and book yourself an away day trip.
1. Butlins Mineworkers Championship
Friday 13th January — Sunday 15th January
A contest weekend to blow away any lingering festive cobwebs of lethargy that may still be in your banding system — and not just because a cold wind is sure to chill your maracas as you make your way to the various resort venues to listen to the entertainment.
Once inside there is plenty to keep you warm — from the contests with their big prize jackpots to the late night revelry that will put a smile on your face. Still pack your thermal undies though…
2. RNCM Brass Band Festival
Friday 27th January — Sunday 29th January
The most important brass band showcase in Europe. Under the superb curatorship of Artistic Director Paul Hindmarsh, the RNCM Festival in Manchester continues to be the driving force behind pushing brass banding into the mainstream musical consciousness.
This year six top class bands will provide three days of music making that will see repertoire that numerous world premieres, superb featured soloists, timely retrospectives and a triple celebration of three outstanding composers for the medium.
By Phone: 0161 907 5555
3. Norwegian National Championships
Friday 3rd February & Saturday 4th February
Everyone should take the opportunity to experience how the Norwegians celebrate, as well as showcase their National brass banding identity — at least once in their lifetime.
This is brass band contesting for the 21st century; vibrant, transparent and communal. It is also brilliantly organised. Forget the price of a pint of beer and fly in to Bergen to enjoy a National Championship like no other: The playing at all levels is a wonderful mix of the brilliant and at times the absolutely bonkers.
4. Action Medical Research Entertainment Championship
Sunday 12th February
If you are looking for a guaranteed brass band boost in the arm in 2017 then make sure you head to the famous Winter Gardens in Blackpool for this fantastic event.
The brilliant youth bands, who have been working their socks off all over the festive period, provide the type of entertainment that deserves to top the bill at this old mecca of fun and games — with an amazing mix of outstanding playing and eye-popping choreography.
For tickets, ring: 01253 625252
5. UniBrass Championships
Harrogate International Conference Centre
Saturday 18th February
Another huge dollop of brass band fun and feverish activity — and that's just on the contest stage. The best and the brightest give up their studies on everything from nuclear physics to media studies for a weekend to maintain their love for brass banding amid an atmosphere of keen, but friendly rivalry. The bar takings will be astronomical.
Superbly organised, and all topped off with a chance to work and hear the all conquering Cory Band in action (thankfully, they won't be competing).