Set against the majestic backdrop of the Edinburgh Castle, the annual series of Military tattoos performed by the British Armed forces is Scotland’s best-selling spectacle. One of the world’s much awaited military events, the Tattoo has always remained the focus of the annual Edinburgh Festival. Conducted in honour of the Scottish personnel and the British Armed Force officers, this event entertains audience with its high-tech illumination, creative graphics, thundering sound and specially commissioned fireworks. The event which couples together the traditional sounds of the drums and bagpipes with the contemporary aspects of the armed forces has always attracted thousands of tourists and continues to do so even today.
Colourful performances from overseas give way to the inspiring music and together with the impressive marching and the brilliant lighting effects they gift you a wonderful experience. The best thing about the Edinburgh Tattoo is that it has kept evolving over the years and hence boasts of a wide variety and new innovations for the audience to look forward every year. The atmosphere being one of friendship and happiness, this event should not be missed. No wonder it has been quoted “an inspiring event of epic proportions.”
The word “Tattoo” is derived from the Dutch word “tap toe” which means “Last orders”. In spite of the fact that the first Edinburgh Tattoo, entitled "Something About a Soldier", was performed at the Ross Bandstand at Princes Street Gardens in the year 1949, the official Edinburgh Military Tattoo began only in 1950. Way back then, there were just eight items in the programme. Around 6000 people seated in and around the benches and gibbet structures in the north, south and east sides of the Edinburgh Castle esplanade were the event’s first spectators. Owing to its growing popularity, in the year 1952, the capacity of the stands was enlarged and provided room to a nightly audience of 7700, thus accommodating as many as 160,000 to watch live performances every year.
Over the years, military units from as many as 40 countries swarmed into the city to make up the 1000- strong performance team. Today an average over 27000 people watch the Tattoo live on the esplanade of the Castle. The Tattoo takes place every weekday evening and twice on Saturdays throughout August. It is also broadcasted in 30 countries and thus an additional 100 million people see the event on television worldwide.
In all its 62 years, no performance of the Tattoo has never been cancelled, and this indeed has turned out to be a remarkable achievement for an outdoor event (especially if you take into account Edinburgh’s reputation for sometimes - inclement weather). In recognition of completing 6 successful decades, from its 60th year, the Tattoo has been honoured with the title “Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo” awarded by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
The impressive music of the Massed Pipes and Drums and the Massed Military Bands is one that will linger forever in your minds. The bands who assemble from different countries never fail to stir the heart and guarantee a night full of entertainment. A traditional favourite, this ever-popular Massed Pipes and Drums add their idiosyncratic sounds and sight to the festival proceedings.
The light show which uses the castle walls as its screen is another one that you will enjoy immensely.
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2014
The 2014 Tattoo (1-23 August 2014) will be the 64th extravaganza to be staged at the Scottish capital's ancient Castle - a spectacular and inspiring backcloth for this remarkable and internationally acclaimed event. With innovative production, heart-stopping sound, imaginative graphics, state-of-the-art lighting and specially commissioned fireworks, the 90-minute show is set to captivate a large cosmopolitan audience.
What Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2014 has in store for you
• An array of nearly 1000 performers includes hundreds of pipers, drummers, musicians, singers and dancers
• The famed display unit from the Norwegian Armed Forces - His Majesty The King's Guard Band and Drill Team.
• Talented dancers from Scotland as well as abroad
• Pipe bands and performers from Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand
• Massed Pipes and Drums and the Massed Military Bands including The Royal Regiment of Scotland and a stunning Combined Band drawn from The Royal Navy, Army and the Royal Air Force.
Things to keep in mind:
You can always book your ticket online. It is a comparatively easy process. Do not wait for the nick of the moment to check your luck but do book your tickets well in advance because tickets for the event are often sold out in advance.
If you are a first-timer, a good idea would be to book a reasonable Tattoo package
(there are many available) which includes a mid-price ticket for the Tattoo and also provides for accommodation facilities. Browse through our selection of Edinburgh Military Tattoo Packages
which include accommodation in and around Edinburgh plus a guaranteed ticket to the Saturday night performance with fireworks.
You can never be sure about the climate. Come prepared with a hooded rain jackets as umbrellas are not allowed in the stands.
There are details of the queuing line given on the official website. However, be prepared to get there at least an hour early.
There are only a few food stalls open outside, and so it is better to take a drink and a snack if you want. Once in your seat, it is not really practical to get up and get some snacks.