THE world's top bagpipers have warned of international outcry if a major city does not rescind a ban on Scotland's national instrument.

Video: the launch of the Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow

A skirl of protest came when it was revealed Vancouver in Canada had prohibited people playing the bagpipes at outdoor sites.

Details only emerged after a busker applying for a permit to play in the streets noticed that bagpipes were prohibited.

The news has astonished key figures in bagpiping circles and came as the 2012 World Pipe Band Championships was launched yesterday.

It prompted an angry reaction from one of the world's leading pipe majors, whose Vancouver-based band is expected to be in Glasgow for the "Olympics of the pipe band world" in August.

Terry Lee, of the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band – which has won the world title six times – said: "I hope that clear heads prevail and the music is allowed to be put out there. I would have thought the city council may have better things to do or more important issues to cover."

Ian Embelton, of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, said leaving the ban in place would bring massive protest.

He added: "It is important that people realise what they are dealing with here. There will be a public outcry if this ban is allowed to go ahead."

It is understood Vancouver Engineering Department, the part of the authority responsible for the rule, will now reconsider its decision.

The global popularity of the pipes is clear as 40,000 visitors and 8000 pipers, drummers and performers are expected to flock to Glasgow for a week of traditional music in the summer.

Pipers from around the world were at the city's Kelvingrove Museum yesterday to launch the Piping Live! festival – which runs from August 6 to 12 – and the World Pipe Band Championships (The Worlds) to be held at Glasgow Green on August 11 .

Mr Embelton said: "London may have the Olympics this year but The Worlds has long been known as the Olympics of the pipe band world.

"Each year bands from more than 11 countries come to Glasgow to compete for the coveted title of world champions, the piping equivalent of gold.

"The Worlds will be an unmissable event for the whole family. We have Highland dancing, Highland games, a massive kid's zone and delicious local food and drink on offer."

The World Championships have been held in Glasgow for almost 70 years while Piping Live! is entering its ninth year.

Last year's championship winners were Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band from Belfast, who will defend their title against bands from Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Canada and the US this year.

Piping Live! features musicians from 10 European countries – including Bulgaria, Estonia, Italy and Sweden – with almost 150 free and ticketed events. The programme has workshops, masterclasses, ceilidhs, concerts and street performances.

Piping Live! festival director Roddy MacLeod said: "We've put together a fantastic programme this year that will once again show what an energetic, eclectic and exhilarating instrument the bagpipes are.

"Whether you are a fan of traditional music, a newcomer to the genre, you want to pick up the pipes yourself or you are looking for something to do with the children during the summer holidays, Piping Live! has something for everyone."