The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual event performed by the British Armed Forces on the cobbled esplanade of the Edinburgh Castle. If you wonder why it has this name, it's not because the performers aren't inked or something. It stems from the Dutch language: ‘doe den tap toe’ this roughly means ‘last orders’. It was back in the 18th century that British regimental bands used to play to signal the time for the troops to leave the saloons and return to the barracks. It eventually developed into a kind of bedtime song. You will not get a tattoo by attending the festival, but the memorable experiences will remain etched in your memory for life.
Every weekday in the evening and twice on Saturdays, a wide range of stirring performances of thousands of drummers, dancers, pipers, and musicians. However, the one show you will not want to miss is the Massed Military Bands and the Massed Pipes and Drums. Overall, more than 800 performers from countries like Mexico, New Zealand, and the US take part in the event. The performing Banda Monumental de Mexico alone features 100 people.
The famous regiments arise from the enormous gates of the Edinburgh Castle, playing their battle tunes frenetically. A colorful show of fireworks, a choir singing Auld Lang Syne and a deafening rumble of jets mark the end of this spectacular and emotional display. In 2022, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo also includes a new show called Voices, inspired by people around the globe and combining military tradition with contemporary innovations.
Since its initial debut in 1950 with only eight items featured in the programme, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo has grown into a large-scale event attended by 220,000 people annually. It showcases military talents from 48 countries and six continents. If you're visiting Edinburgh during the festive season, attending the Tattoo is a must.