Official Guide to Edinburgh
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Experience the Sensational Edinburgh Military Tattoo

14 July 2014

The sun has set, and on the battlements of Edinburgh Castle, a lone piper begins to play a lament, the melody washing over the looming building and down to the Esplanade, where thousands of people sit holding their breath and listening.

There are few such moving festival moments, a fact to which any of the over 220,000 people who experience it live every year can attest – not to mention the further 100 million who watch television broadcasts of the event! And it comes at the end of one of the world's most exciting performances: the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The sounds of the bands will be heard throughout the city, followed by the cheers of the audience, the roar of military jets flying over the city, and finally the glorious fireworks that colour the night sky. But you have to be up close to hear the Lone Piper's poignant call.

A Mighty Military Pageant

The Tattoo began 65 years ago, a pageant of military might and musical grace, and fast became one of Edinburgh's most iconic events. This year, 1000 performers from all over the Commonwealth will gather to delight and impress Tattoo audiences with a whirl-wind trip around the world in celebration of the theme 'Our Home, Family and Friends' - a musical journey from Scotland to Africa, the Antipodes, the Caribbean, and everywhere in-between.

Expect spectacle: hundreds of dancers in the floodlights never setting a foot out of step, displays of marching and drumming prowess, and more bagpipes than you can ever imagine, playing in perfect harmony. What makes the whole thing even more impressive is the knowledge that it all comes together in just a few days of rehearsals, and no performance has ever been cancelled; no force of nature can stop the Tattoo!

The word itself comes from the Dutch "Doe den tap toe", the evening call that went out for bars to turn off their beer taps and send soldiers to their beds. The British army adopted it as a musical signal, performed each evening by the band, simultaneously a command and a form of evening entertainment - though after experience the impressiveness of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo you might be forgiven for ignoring orders and sneaking a wee dram o' whisky on the Royal Mile.

Savour the Edinburgh Military Tattoo

The Military Tattoo is one of Edinburgh’s unique attractions, drawing crowds of all ages and backgrounds from across the country and around the world to sit in awe above the Castle Esplanade and savour the experience of a lifetime.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo runs from the 1st to the 23rd of August. For more information and to buy tickets, visit the Edinburgh Military Tattoo on-line. 

Blog supplied by Edinburgh Festivals.