Edinburgh Military Tattoo to give clan members starring role in 2017 production

Clan members from around the world will get the chance of a starring role in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo for the first time.

Clan members will have a starring role in the 2017 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Clan members will have a starring role in the 2017 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Dozens of clansmen and clanswomen will parade up the Royal Mile and onto the castle esplanade at the opening of each performance.

At least two different clans will be represented each night of the three-week run of the event during the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival.

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Friends and relatives will be urged to book up for performances which will be designated for different clans, while chiefs are expected to stage their own special celebratory events on around the day of the show they are involved in.

Organisers are giving people with clan links the chance to take part in the Tattoo's opening ceremony.

Tattoo chiefs also want all audience members to wear “tartan clothes, headgear and accoutrements” to the showpiece next year to help embrace the theme.

They hope the initiatives will spark a new wave of interest in the national fabric, as well as raising awareness of the Tattoo among the diaspora.

Brigadier David Allfrey, producer of the Tattoo, said: “We’ve been in conversation for some months with the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, who preside over the network of clans, to come up with these plans.

“There is always a bit of a challenge with people being able to come to the Tattoo when they want, but we’re trying to make it easier for them. What we’re doing is similar to the work we’ve done in the past with travel companies.

Organisers are giving people with clan links the chance to take part in the Tattoo's opening ceremony.

“The plan is for the clan chief and a retinue to patrol up the Lawnmarket and Castlehill to the esplanade where they will be invited to join in with the opening ceremony on the esplanade and be very much part of the those initial stages.

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“We’re inviting everybody who comes to the Tattoo to dress up. It will be great fun and a tremendous fashion parade, from the most traditional to the avant garde. The only crime will be not dressing in tartan.”

The “Splash of Tartan” theme for next year’s show has been developed to coincide with a Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, which will be targeted at the 50 million people around the world who have Scottish ancestry. Around 213,000 people visitors a year to Scottish carry out ancestral research.

Key elements of the campaign, being led by tourism agency VisitScotland, include helping people with Scottish ancestry to trace their clan to specific parts of Scotland, such as the MacLeods of Skye or the MacNeils of Barra, key episodes like the Jacobite Risings and the Battle of Culloden, and pivotal figures like Bonnie Prince Charlie and Rob Roy MacGregor.

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Brigadier Allfrey added: “In the coming year, when Scotland’s heritage and history are once again to the fore, Splash of Tartan offers a fabulous opportunity for everyone to get involved, dress the part and join in the celebration and pageantry.

“We’re looking to get the word out, not just across Scotland and the United Kingdom, but to everyone abroad who is linked to Scotland - in whatever way. Kilts, trews, sporrans, plaids, hose and bonnets will all be de rigueur.

“We hope the Tattoo will provide a perfect excuse for families to come together at the show and further afield. We want everyone to celebrate their links with Scotland by looking the part in August.”

Sir Malcolm MacGregor, chief of the Clan Gregor, and a direct descendant of Rob Roy MacGregor, said: “Our partnership with The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been a long-time coming.

“It’s an excellent way to propel the fascinating history of Scotland’s clan heritage to the fore, and encourage others to explore their Scottish roots, of which there are many.

“The clans and families are steeped in history, but it is within a modern context and making it relevant for today that matters.

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“It’s going to be a wonderful sight to witness people from the Highlands, Lowlands and Borders of Scotland and the world, descending on the iconic grounds of Edinburgh Castle, tartan aplenty.”

VisitScotland’s chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “Yet again, the Tattoo provides more than just a stage for stunning entertainment but a platform for tourism in Scotland.

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“The Year of History Heritage and Archaeology will mark an important milestone for us all as we take a look back into our fascinating roots and explore yesteryear traditions.

“The ancestral market has huge potential for the Scottish economy, with millions of Scottish descendants across the globe. We hope that Splash of Tartan will ignite interest even further in this area and encourage people to explore their family roots, traditions and customs.”