It is the military extravaganza which draws almost a quarter of a million people to Edinburgh for the massed pipes and drums renditions of classic Scottish music and song.
Now the city’s annual Tattoo is turning to classic music from the movies, famous hits by rock stars including Tina Turner and Rod Stewart, and even Gangnam Style dance moves.
And organisers say the natural beauty of Scotland has inspired a radical rethink of this year’s Edinburgh Castle Esplanade show, which will see classic songs like What a Wonderful World and Over the Rainbow performed before the daily 8,000-strong crowd.
Tattoo-goers will also see images of the origins of the planet and Edinburgh’s past life as the home of a huge volcano with the help of state-of-the-art projections equipment.
Brigadier David Allfrey, the show’s producer, said the technology would allow him to “blow up the castle” to help recreate the castle rock’s previous life as a volcano.
He said: “Each year, we look to remain authentic to those elements that are ever-important, but we also look to stretch and find innovative production techniques and new acts from around the world.
“We have an astonishing cast and a wonderful music programme. It will be an uplifting show and people will be leaving it having had a good time.”
Other highlights at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, being staged for the 64th time this year, are expected to include music from the stage show The War Horse, ahead of its debut in Edinburgh next year. The show’s famous puppet of Joey the horse will also be appearing.
Music from the Lord of the Rings films, the Phantom of the Opera stage show and Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, the piece famously featured in the Vietnam film Apocalypse Now, are all due to be performed.
Rod Stewart’s Rhythm of My Heart and the Tina Turner classic River Deep Mountain High will feature, along with Rhythm of Life, the Sammy Davis jnr hit, and Bring Me Sunshine, the song made famous by Morecambe and Wise.
South Korea’s Ministry of National Defence is sending a group of musicians, although they will not be performing Gangnam Style, the single by fellow countryman Psy.
Brig Allfrey said he did not think it appropriate for a traditional group to perform the song. Instead, it will be tackled by the New Zealand Army Band.
The brigadier revealed sales were ahead of last year – with 95 per cent of seats already snapped up. Other highlights include three groups from Mexico, the Lochiel Marching Drill Team, from New Zealand, and military performers from Mongolia.
• Tattoo runs from 2-24 August.
The Mongolian Army has sent a 70-strong group of performers to the Tattoo for the first time, including wind musicians and percussionists, as well as several traditional throat singers whose performances at the Tattoo will be inspired by the celebrated 13th-century Mongol warrior Genghis Khan.
The New Zealand Army Band, formed in 1964, will join forces with the Lochiel Marching Drill Team at the Tattoo for a programme which includes everything from Colonel Bogey, Out of the Frying Pan and A 5th of Beethoven to Phantom of the Opera, Lord of the Rings and Gangnam Style.
Mexico’s Mariachi and Day of the Dead festivities will be brought to life on the Esplanade thanks to three traditional outfits making their Tattoo debuts - the Monumental Jaguares Marching Band, the Compania De Danza Folklorica Tenochtitlan dance group and the family outfit, Mariachi Oro De Mexico.
Yes or No, the show goes on
THE Tattoo is drawing up contingency plans for the event in the event of a “Yes” vote in the independence referendum, its producer has revealed.
Brigadier David Allfrey said planning was under way for the two different scenarios in the event of next September’s poll – but insisted there would be no major impact on the Tattoo.
He said: “The event is an enormous advert for the Scotland and the UK. There is a political question and a question for democracy to decide, but we will go on planning a great show.
It is bound to make a difference for us because at the moment we talk to all the various ministries that have soldiers and all the rest of it.
“We are thinking about both eventualities, of course we are. But we are a grown-up company, whatever hand we are dealt we will just get on with it.”
Arena fox inspires a tale
A LATE-night encounter between the man behind the esplanade spectacular and a fox has inspired a children’s book.
The Tattoo Fox, which will be published by Luath Press to coincide with this year’s event at Edinburgh Castle, tells of the creature’s adventures in and around the landmark over the course of a year.
It has been penned by Alasdair Hutton, the narrator of the Tattoo for the past 20 years, who will be appearing at a special event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival to read some of the adventures, along with Brigadier David Allfrey, who met the fox during last-minute preparations before his first event two years ago.
Brig Allfrey, the show’s producer, said he spotted the fox when he was alone on the esplanade: “I held my breath … and I took our meeting as a good omen.”