Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Edinburgh Festival
Guest Post

If you are planning a trip to Edinburgh, August is the time where the city is most vibrant. The Edinburgh Festival is in full swing and the population almost doubles, such is the attraction to tourists for the biggest arts festival in the world. Amongst the many thousands of shows and street performers, there is the jewel in the crown. The Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Edinburgh is amazing in its own right but throw in the Tattoo and WOW; your break will be unforgettable.

The world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo provides an amazing spectacle for thousands of visitors every August. The event sees displays by the British armed forces as well as international military bands. Performers from over 48 countries have taken part in the Tattoo, and around 30 per cent of the 220,000 audience each year are from overseas.

The history of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo dates back to it’s first performance in 1950, and the word Tattoo comes from the nightly ritual of army drummers, drumming to signal that soldiers should return from inns and taverns to their barracks. A message to the soldiers as well as to the innkeepers. This ritual of marching back became known as ‘Doe den tap toe’ or ‘turn of the taps’. This later became ‘tap toe’ and then ‘Tattoo’.

That’s my little bit of the history for you, now for the hard bit.

How do you describe the Grand Canyon? You can’t, accurately. You must see it to truly appreciate it. The same holds true for the Tattoo.

The venue on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, the performances, music and dancing and the professional production of the World’s premier outdoor attraction is unique. The variety of performers from all over the world, military or civilian, their cultures and ethos, and sheer ability to perform in the open, and the military and other music coupled with the military and massed pipe bands is unsurpassed. Even if you don’t have a tiny wee drop o’ Scottish blood, you will be stirred at the Tattoo. I get goosebumps whenever I hear bagpipes so to hear hundreds of them all at once is the best feeling.

It was intimate and stimulating, stirring and evocative. Even on a rainy, cold night, it was a wonderful sight, the backdrop of the romantic Castle, the floodlit city below, the skirl of pipes and visitors from all Aires and parts o’ the world. The event is truly organised to military precision and no matter what seat you chose you are in for a good show.

The ever-present castle, foreboding and welcoming all at the same time provides such a great backdrop to the drama played out in its shadow. It’s the biggest character in the whole show, dominating with its sheer bulk.

There is something for everyone here. Spectacle, wonder, inspiration, emotion, passion, pride, wonderful music. I found myself choked up with emotion and wiping tears from my eyes when the pipes and drums marched in playing some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. It was a thrilling experience for my husband and me.

There is barely time to draw breath. After all the joy of listening to the massed bands, suddenly your attention is drawn to a lone piper standing high up in the ramparts playing an eerie lament. If the hairs on the back of your neck don’t stand up, you’re not human!

The costumes outshone Broadway, the talent was abundant, and the memories of this fantastic night will truly last me a lifetime. This amazing show finished with a spectacular fireworks display.

One word of warning, if you don’t like heights, try to get seats lower down. It can be a bit daunting to climb to the top of the stands if you have a problem with heights. Also take a blanket, dress in layers but take your sunglasses too. You never know what the Scottish weather will throw at you and it can be quite cold even in August. The show will go on regardless of the weather; a show has never been cancelled since they first started in 1950. Finally, just go, I promise you will not be disappointed. This is for everyone and all ages.

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