Ten facts about the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo you may not have known:
Edinburgh Castle – scene of the Tattoo every August
The first tattoo took place in 1950. A performance has never been cancelled in all this time since, over sixty-five years.
It happens every August weekday evening and twice on Saturdays. It is always sold out in advance and has been for the last ten years. If you wish to attend on a solo visit to Scotland, purchase your tickets months before you go, or if on an arranged tour, ensure your tour of Scotland includes tickets to this wonderful event. Ask you travel professional for help.
Yearly attendance is over the two hundred thousand mark with a hundred million watching the event on television.
Parade at the Tattoo
The Tattoo is always held at Edinburgh Castle with the finale march of the performers, massed pipes and drums (to the tune of The Black Bear -a blood-stirring tune well known to lovers of such music) , and massed military bands down the Royal Mile, the famous street in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Castle provides the perfect back drop to the performance. A sound and light show is projected on the Castle walls. It looms solid against the night sky lit by the fireworks display incorporated into every Saturday’s second evening performance. And what better place to have a piper play the evening’s ending lament but from a position high on the walls of the Half Moon Battery.
The tattoo rotates its highlight performance based on the four branches of service: the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Royal Air Force and the British Army.
The Red Arrows of the Royal Air Force performing at the Tattoo in 2014
Military bands and performers come from all over the world as well, one of the more popular being the Royal Netherland Grenadiers. Nearly 50 countries have participated since its inception.
The Tattoo contributes a large portion of its profits to charities helping people such as the RAF Benevolent Fund, the Soldiers Charity, and many more to help alleviate those fighting poverty, stress, unemployment or coping with disabilities and sickness.
The patron of the Tattoo , rather fittingly, is HRH, The Princess Royal, Princess Anne.
Lastly, a bit of trivia. Tattoos can be found all over Britain ( and indeed the world) so if you come across one in your travels, do attend as they are amazing, military-based performances and music. The trivia? The word tattoo really has nothing much if anything to do with this type of performance – it comes from “last call” in the Dutch pubs in the 1600’s – “doe den tap toe”.
The Royal Mile, Edinburgh
As related in Fact # 10, there are tattoos held elsewhere. My fondest memory of one was stumbling over it by accident on an early trip to Britain in the 70’s, the Tidworth Tattoo. It was small at that time (no grandstands only a rope separating the onlookers from the action) so you were up close and personal with the thrilling and entertainment. What a memory! In Canada, a popular attraction in Halifax every summer is the tattoo, a splendid indoor event with performers from all over the world. And the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo actually goes on tour sometimes too. But if in Edinburgh, this, along with the Castle, is one sight not to be missed – even if you have a nae a drop o’ Scottish blood. ~ D. MacIntyre,compassmedia.solutions.