Ever wondered what the sound of the iconic mass pipes and drums is like? Or how it may feel to watch the lone piper play in the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle? The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is the perfect place to find out. Welcome to The Greatest Show on Earth!
“The greatest show on earth”
If you want to visit one of the most anticipated events in Scotland then book yourself some tickets for The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The Scottish capital has more festivals than you can count on its annual events calendar, but The Tattoo is definitely the cherry on top. It takes place each year in August and compliments the other festivals that are taking place in the summer months. During this time, the population of Edinburgh doubles as locals and international guests celebrate the city’s offerings. Whether you like literature, the arts, comedy, film, science or music, you'll find a festival about it. The Tattoo, however, trumps them all.
So, what is it?
In 1950, Edinburgh saw the first Tattoo take place, showcasing the best of British military Mass Pipe and Drums. Two years later the event went international, seeking performances from regiments from across the globe. Each year, it gets more international. Organizers travel the world round to secure the best acts for their show. The show is based on a new theme each year; the theme of 2018 is ‘The Sky's the Limit’. The festival gathers more than 1200 performers from 40 countries, more than 1200 who take the promenade to entertain in a display of vibrant color and music. The themes are complimented with performances from military regiments, including regular appearances from the famous Swiss Top Secret Drum Corps, and not forgetting the mass pipes and drums. Although the program has been modernized over the years with dance and culture, it stays true to its roots as a celebration of military performance, bands and displays.
Preparation begins months in advance so the 220,000 strong audience can enjoy the event. People travel from across the globe to secure their seat for the performance of a lifetime. But, it doesn’t stop there. The Tattoo has a global television audience of 100 million people. Over 48 countries have been represented at the event since its first performance.
The sound of the Mass Pipes and Drums
For the Scottish audience, the Mass Pipes and Drums is a special moment of pride. For international visitors, it is an incredible display that will leave you speechless. A massive 250 pipers and drummers from across the Commonwealth and beyond come together in a carefully choreographed display of military excellence. The sound is incredible and every single person is playing to the same note, whilst marching on the esplanade under the night’s sky. Then comes the Lone Piper. Words can’t describe the atmosphere as the esplanade falls silent and dark and the Lone Piper takes to the spotlight in the ramparts high up in the castle wall.
A global icon: Edinburgh Castle
Let’s talk about the setting. You couldn’t find a more romantic backdrop than Edinburgh Castle, lit up in all its glory. The terraced seating on the Castle Esplanade gives you the perfect view for the show that is about to unfold before your eyes. Emerging out of the gate is a flood of incredible acts from across the globe, showcasing their military and cultural history.
The chances are if you are visiting the capital, you will be planning a visit to Edinburgh Castle during the daytime as well. The castle is an incredible piece of medieval history and an important Scottish icon. It holds a special place in the hearts of the city’s residents and by visiting you will easily see why. Within the walls are several museums, the Crown Jewels, Mons Meg, Europe’s most famous gun, and the One o’clock gun that can be heard across the city daily, often giving visitors a shock. An added bonus of being on Castle Rock is the incredible views across the city’s UNESCO Old and New Towns and out to the sea beyond. It is best to book tickets in advance to avoid long queues, especially in the summer months.
To secure your tickets, it is advised to book well in advance to make sure you don’t miss this spectacular event, which takes place from 2-24 August. The Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh City Centre is also located on the Royal Mile, minutes from the Castle, in the heart of the beautiful Old Town, making the perfect accommodation to compliment your visit to The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. For more information on what to see and do in the Scottish capital, visit This is Edinburgh and start planning your trip today.