Thursday, April 5, 2007

Edinburgh's Military Tattoo: one of the city's most historic festivals

Every August, Edinburgh turns into festival city, and one of the most popular festive celebrations is the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Annually, over 200, 000 people visit the Tattoo, set on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, to show their support for one of the most well-known and historic of Edinburgh's Festivals.

The Edinburgh Tattoo officially began in 1950, with only eight events on the programme. However, the tradition of the tattoo has its roots in the seventeenth century, when British Army units were stationed in the Low Countries of Scotland. Drummers from each garrison were sent into towns every evening to summon the soldiers of the army to return to their barracks, in a ritual that was known as 'Doe den tap toe' (or simply 'tap toe').

Today, the Edinburgh Tattoo has turned into an enormous international event that showcases the best in Scottish and global talent. Over the years, various international military regiments - and even some African tribes - have performed, a tradition begun in 1952 when the Royal Netherlands Grenadiers were invited to participate in the show. Over 30 countries have been represented in the Tattoo so far, and its audience is just as eclectic. It is estimated that 30 per cent of the Edinburgh Tattoo's audience is from Scotland, with another 35 per cent from the UK. The remaining 35 per cent of the audience originates in countries outside the UK, with another 100 million viewers watching the TV broadcast of the event worldwide.

For many people, the highlight of the Edinburgh Tattoo is the massed pipes and drums provided by regiments from both the British Army and global armies with Scottish links. Every evening during each performance of the Tattoo, the show concludes with a flag-lowering ceremony, which is accompanied by bugles sounding the Last Post (or the "Sunset bugle call of the Royal Marines), and ultimately ends with a lone piper in a single spotlight playing on the walls of Edinburgh Castle.

While the Edinburgh Tattoo sells out months in advance every year, the 2005 Tattoo proved especially popular. This was because the 2005 event was the last time all six infantry regiments of the Scottish Division appeared at the Tattoo, before being amalgamated into the single Royal Regiment of Scotland. 2005 also saw the largest gathering of pipes and drums in the event's history.

For anyone thinking about visiting during the Edinburgh festivals season to see the Military Tattoo, late ticket or accommodation bookings can be difficult, however many of the online travel or short break sites, such as Superbreak, frequently have special offers on hotels in Edinburgh and Tattoo ticket deals on offer, so even you won't be left out. So, what are you waiting for? Visit Edinburgh during the Edinburgh Military Tattoo for some of the best in military entertainment

About the Author

Andrew Regan began his career in Advertising, Film and Television and worked for 20 years at the HTV studios.


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