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A Bonspiel is a curling tournament, consisting of several games, often held on a weekend. Historically prior to the twentieth century many were held outdoors on a frozen freshwater loch. Though not mandatory, curling teams involved in bonspiels often wear theme costumes. Today almost all bonspiels are held indoors on specially prepared artificial ice.

Bonspiels in North America[edit]


Although Bonspiels originated in Scotland, the most notable competitive curling tournaments in the world nowadays are The Brier, the Canadian Men's Curling Championship and the University of Victoria "Law Spiel". For Canadians, these tournaments equal or nearly equal the importance of the Olympics and the World Curling Championship[citation needed]. According to Canadian folklore, a curling team named the "Moot Points" once won each of these tournaments in the same calendar year. The Moot Points' success galvanized the country and brought men's curling from obscurity to the frontier of Canadian culture. The particular year in which these events occurred is unknown. Canadian Women's Curling Championship tournament is called Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Several Cashspiels are played in Canada every year. The most important cashspiels are part of World Curling Tour (WCT). Many local curling clubs and other organizations in Canada also host more social, fun bonspiel events targeted to the more social or club curlers rather than the competitive, veteran curling crowd.

United States[edit]

The United States Curling Association (USA Curling) is the national governing body of the sport of curling in the United States. Many bonspiels are listed on the USA Curling web page, Most bonspiels in the United States are held indoors in dedicated curling facilities. Bonspiels are popular throughout the United States during curling season, which is typically October through April. Some special bonspiels are even held in the summer.

Bonspiels in Europe[edit]


In Scotland itself outdoor bonspiels are now very rare; most lochs which formerly hosted bonspiels have rarely frozen over in recent years, for example Loch Earn. The word spiel is sometimes used on its own to refer to an informal curling game, for example parish spiel. The most important Cashspiels in Scotland are part of Curling Champions Tour (CCT) which was previously called World Curling Tour Europe (WCT-E).

Other European countries[edit]

Many bonspiels are held in the European countries every year. Especially Switzerland hosts multiple Curling Champions Tour events but there are tens of bonspiels outside of Scotland and Switzerland every year.

Bonspiels elsewhere[edit]

New Zealand[edit]

Curling bonspiels are held when ice conditions permit in the Maniototo, part of Central Otago in the South Island. The region is one of the few in New Zealand to have conditions suitable for outdoor curling, and is doubly suitable due to Otago's original European settlers mainly coming from Scotland. Several artificial and natural lakes around the towns of Oturehua, Naseby and Patearoa provide good conditions, on average every second or third year.

The national Bonspiel has been held when conditions permit since 1879, with Oturehua's Idaburn Dam having been the venue since 1932.[1] The most recent national bonspiel, the 65th, was held on 9–10 July 2012.[2] Owing to the haste needed in getting teams to the relatively inaccessible venue, it is rare for teams to travel from outside the southern South Island to the bonspiel.

Indoor curling rinks exist in Otago's main centre, Dunedin (at the Dunedin Ice Stadium), and in the towns of Naseby, Otago and Gore, Southland, and also further north in the country's largest city, Auckland. Open air ice rinks exist in Naseby and Alexandra.[3]

List of Notable Bonspiels[edit]

Origin of the word "Bonspiel"[edit]

The origin of the word is primarily Gaelic.

Since curling is believed to have originated in Scotland, it is likely that "bonspiel" is a modern adaptation of the Scottish Gaelic words: "Bonn"(coin) [4] and "Spéil"(skate)[5] meaning "Coin Skate" or "Cornerstone Skate" (archaic definition).[6]

However, "spiel" may also have been a Germanic borrowing, meaning "game" as it does in other languages in the Germanic language family. In that case, the Scots prior to the known 15th Century history of the game may have intended the word (or words) to mean "bonn spiel" or "cornerstone game".


  1. ^ "The bonspiel", New Zealand Curling Association. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  2. ^ "2012 bonspiel results", New Zealand Curling Association. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Curling in New Zealand", New Zealand Curling Association. 24 July 2007. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  4. ^ "Rannsaich am Briathrachan Bheag" (in Scottish Gaelic). 2010-02-20. Retrieved 2012-02-17. 
  5. ^ "Rannsaich am Briathrachan Bheag" (in Scottish Gaelic). 2010-02-20. Retrieved 2012-02-17. 
  6. ^ "Coin - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Retrieved 2012-02-17. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]