ACTS from Mexico and Mongolia are to take centre stage in next year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, organisers have confirmed, ahead of tickets going on sale next week.
Both countries will be represented at the world-famous event for the first time, along with military bands from South Korea, Russia and New Zealand.
Brigadier David Allfrey, who was appointed two years ago, has also revealed the event will be playing a major role in marking the “Year of Natural Scotland” in 2013. The government-backed initiative is aimed at promoting Scotland’s wildlife and wilderness areas.
Sophisticated projection equipment will see Edinburgh Castle rock taken back to its origins as a volcano during a dramatic sequence inspired by Charles Darwin’s links to the city, while red deer, fly-fishing, capercaillies, pine martens and even midges will be celebrated.
The brigadier – who introduced appearances from Dennis the Menace and Minnie the Minx, as well as music from the Disney film Brave to the Tattoo this year – made no apologies for encouraging “innovation and mischief” again next year, insisting the event had to be constantly reinvented to attract crowds.
The Tattoo is already in talks to emulate the success of this year’s Brave excerpts by using elements from the soundtrack of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, performed by musicians from New Zealand, where the film trilogy is being made.
Despite advance sales slipping to their lowest level for a decade, the Tattoo insists all 220,000 tickets were sold this year.
But the brigadier admits the event is facing its toughest ever ticket sales environment, saying the poor economic outlook, a pattern of later ticket-buying and the shunning of the event by Edinburgh festival-goers had led to a marketing rethink.
Brig Allfrey has admitted more needs to be done to attract local people to the event and dispel the myth that the show is the same every year. Just 10 per cent of tickets are currently sold to people living in Edinburgh.
The first details of next year’s Tattoo emerged as he was confirmed as the new nationwide champion for Scotland’s festivals and events sector.
The Aguiluchos Marching Band from Mexico will be joined by a troupe of folk dancers at the event, along with the Mongolian military’s band, the New Zealand Army Band and fellow Kiwis, the Lochiel Marching Drill Team. The Band of the Irish Guards, the Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are also confirmed to be appearing in next year’s show.
Brigadier Allfrey added: “We sold all our tickets this year, but it didn’t happen until the middle of the run and it was much harder than the previous year.
“We are expecting next year to be even tougher, as a result of various factors, including a reduction in the number of visitors to the UK, changing patterns with people booking much later every year, the global economic conditions.
“We are also acknowledging that there may be an issue with the perception of the Tattoo and that if you have been once you don’t have to go again.
“We need to do a lot more to get the local audience in, as it only represents 10 per cent of our ticket sales at present and just 20 per cent of our tickets are sold in Scotland.
“We have put our ticket prices up slightly, but our cheapest seat is only £24 and we think that still offers fantastic value for money.”
Meanwhile, the brigadier said he hoped his new festivals and events champion role, with the Scottish Tourism Alliance, would allow industry figures to share ideas and expertise on marketing campaigns, fundraising and improving staff skills.
Tickets for this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo go on sale on Monday.