A visitor guide to the Royal Edinburgh Tattoo

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL
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The Scottish capital of Edinburgh is by no means a stranger to a good show. From the Fringe to Hogmanay, it seems that the city is one that comes most alive when creativity is allowed to take hold for a few days, or even weeks.

The same is undeniably true when August arrives, bringing both warmer weather and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Picture: TSPL

Picture: TSPL

The setting is unrivalled

Few events are able to take place with such an awe-inspiring backdrop as the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Sitting atop a huge rock, Edinburgh Castle is illuminated and rests high above the city as the show takes place on the esplanade - a large, forecourt type area just before the official entrance to the castle. Those with the most expensive seats sit directly facing the castle, but the grandeur and importance of the old structure is easily visible from any seat.

It’s a global celebration…

Of course, Scottish traditions both military and cultural are celebrated here, but this is always joined by people, groups and acts from all corners of the globe. This year, 2015, the Tattoo’s theme is ‘East Meets West’. Expect to see the world come together to celebrate our global community through piping, drumming, singing and dancing, as well as through grand military processions, of course.

Each year has a different theme, a different reason for celebrating in the unique way that the Tattoo does, and brings together elements that you perhaps wouldn’t typically think to be compatible: music, military ceremony, theatre and dance.

2014’s Tattoo was based on the theme of ‘Our Home, Friends and Family’, highlighting the friendships and communication with those overseas, military and civilian, as well as celebrating the important notion of Scottish homecoming.

This year in particular, the Tattoo is looking to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain with an appearance from the RAF Pipes and Drums, the RAF Squadronaires and the Queen’s Colour Squadron. The anniversary of the Battle of Britain is an important one, and is set to be observed respectfully.

The Tattoo has its own history

Having existed (albeit in a much smaller capacity) since the 1950s, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been enjoyed and celebrated year after year, with audience numbers growing in size each year too.

Though the Tattoo is a great draw for those living abroad, approximately 70% of the 220,000-bodied audience are from Scotland and the wider UK - and as such, tickets can be hard to come by the later you leave it, no matter where in the world you are.

Today, the Tattoo is televised in 30 countries, with over 100 million viewers worldwide - a far cry from the first official Tattoo which had an audience of 6,000.

There’s nowhere quite like Edinburgh

During the days around the Tattoo, Edinburgh remains one of the most interesting cities in Europe - a place that’s worth exploring in itself, whether you’re local to Scotland or looking to visit. The separation of the old and new town by the train station and Princes Street Gardens makes the city feel like two places with the same name. The modern high street, restaurants and bars live on the new side of town, whereas history, cobbled closes and old pubs fill the other, older portion. Museums and art galleries are a must-visit while in the city too, and it goes without saying that the Scottish capital is home to some of the best theatres in the United Kingdom. There’s so much to do and see in Edinburgh that the Tattoo season really offers a great chance to visit and see it all! Many return year after year - but don’t let that put off any first timers, either.

• Newmarket Holidays offer trips to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo starting from £199