The very first Edinburgh Military Tattoo commenced in 1950 with only eight items in the programme. The sheer magnitude of the Tattoo has increased so much so that audience numbers now run at approximately 220,000 people annually. A grand total of 48 countries and six continents have been represented throughout its running. With each year possessing differing themes and hosting an array of nations, each Tattoo performance will be unique.
Rewind back to the Low Countries in the 17th century. The word ‘tattoo’ comes from the phrase ‘doe den tap toe’ or in other words ‘turn off the taps’. This alerted drummers or trumpeters to signal to the innkeepers that it was closing time. They would then turn off their ale kegs and send the soldiers back to their barracks for a sound night’s sleep. As time went on, the term was used to refer to the last duty call of the day before it became a type of ceremonious military festivity. Nowadays, this social phenomenon may not be a tattoo that hurts but it will stay with you forever.
Since its conception, the Tattoo has always been held at Edinburgh Castle (with the rehearsals held at Redford Barracks). From indigenous African peoples to international military regiments, this splendid spectacle has captivated many a multicultural audience for years. Approximately 35 miles worth of cables are required in order to run the show. To put that into perspective, this could almost get you from Edinburgh to Glasgow!
Undoubtedly, the only way to grasp the true essence of this unique experience is to witness it in person. This year is promised to be the definition of epic as it is a celebration of The Queen’s 90th birthday. Along with ‘Tunes of Glory’, expect to see the New Zealand Army Band, the Lochiel Marching Drill Team, and the Imps Motorcycle Display Team. Experience different cultures from across the globe in their finery, hop into a time capsule, and immerse yourself into this resplendent event.