Spoiler Alert: if you do not want to know about some of the fun surprises during the show until after you've seen it- wait to read this because there are spoilers!
Internationalism. Drama. Scottish Heritage. Pageantry. All these themes shine through at this year's Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Every August the Tattoo is set on the iconic Edinburgh Castle Esplanade, and we were fortunate to attend the Preview Night of the 69th Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. It's the exact same show as the other nights, and the only difference is that the media and press can take pictures and move around among the performers during the show (something that didn't bother or hinder our viewing).
The tickets are half price during the Preview Night and a fantastic deal. Honestly, if you're ever in town for the preview night we highly recommend you try to get tickets for it. That way you can save a little money and use the savings towards something else fun on your trip.
Even though we live in Edinburgh, our business is tourism, and we are always thinking and doing things from a tourist's perspective. This is a role we take on because it helps us to really get to know the city. That way, when we do our walking tours, we really understand the pulse of what's happening and can share that with visitors. Therefore, that's why we attended the Tattoo and why we try to explore and discover Edinburgh whenever we get a chance. We truly love Edinburgh, all it has to offer, and we like to speak knowledgeably and from personal experience.
I think many would agree with me when I say that, nowadays, it's all about the experiences when we travel. Often, we have so little time when on holiday. Therefore, what we choose to do is focused on quality and value. And, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has those in spades. Even if you can't get into the Preview Night, the Tattoo can still be a great deal (check the Tattoo website for tickets and booking). Of course, there are luxury seating ticket options available such as the 'Bruce Dining with Royal Gallery Seat' for £520 per person.
However, I have a feeling that, for most of us, that isn't a realistic option. An important tip when booking tickets is to try to book as soon as tickets go on sale. That way, you can take advantage of a wider range in prices- starting from around £35 and up. What is important to note is that the way the stands are set up allows for great viewing from all locations and a variety of price points.
This year's overarching theme is 'Kaleidoscope: A celebration of glorious symmetry' and a wonderful cacophony of colours and spectacle permeated each performance. There was so much that happened throughout, but I will simply discuss the highlights of the show.
Two themes I mentioned at the beginning were internationalism and drama, and they were illustrated throughout the entire show. What is nice about the Tattoo is that they invite performers from around the world. Some of my favourites include the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra, Music De L'Artillerie from France, and the New Zealand Army Band. They all demonstrated showmanship and dazzled with their fun surprises- which included Carnival-esque dancers, a can-can dance, and haka that got the whole crowd cheering.
Of course, we are most likely bias, but the ultimate highlight of the Military Tattoo are the various pipers and drummers from around Scotland. I couldn't help but tap my toes and smile whenever the players entered the Esplanade. I don't think there is any other place that can match the fantastic themes of Scottish heritage and pageantry than The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Hearing so many bagpipes and drums in one place is truly stunning.
This was perfectly demonstrated during one of the most epic moments at the very beginning during the Massed Pipes and Drums Performance. A host of regiments, bands, and guards from around the world entered the Esplanade from the Castle gate in true dramatic fashion with lights, smoke, and fire giving a spectacular introduction.
A fun surprise throughout the evening's performances were the projections on the Castle. This technology is relatively new to Edinburgh Castle and it was beautiful to see a variety of images reflecting the 'Kaleidoscope' theme as well as tying in with the particular performances. Related to this, and as a side note, there is an upcoming 'Castle of Light' show that will be taking place at Edinburgh Castle this winter. So, if you are coming to Edinburgh for the holiday season, make sure to check the Edinburgh Castle website for more details and information on that exciting show. And, be assured that we will try to get tickets to the show so that we can share a blog post on it as well.
Before I close, I would also like to add that the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a charity. I think it's important to point this out because many people don't realise this. The Tattoo provides donations to various organisations, and part of their annual donations help out local arts groups in the Edinburgh community.
Additionally, they donate to The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Youth Talent Development Fund in conjunction with Creative Scotland to "provide young artists in Scotland with the opportunity to develop their skills in the realms of traditional music, piping, drumming, highland dancing and fiddle playing" (from The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Kaleidoscope 2019 programme). This is crucial because it helps to keep cultural traditions alive with the younger generations so that others will continue to enjoy the Tattoo for years to come.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is truly an experience like no other- and I'm not speaking in hyperbole. It is one of the best shows I've ever been to, and there's certainly nothing like it. It is definitely a show that is best experienced in-person. There's something incredible about having an entire crowd of people holding hands and singing Auld Lang Syne (written by that most famous Scot, Robert Burns)- it was exhilarating and heartwarming at the same time. We hope you will be able to attend one of the performances- whether it's this year, next year, or some year in the future- it will be a highlight of your trip to Scotland for sure because it is 'the greatest show'.
Until next time- Explore & Discover!