Every August for the past 70 years, the city of Edinburgh becomes a global hub for theatre, music, art, comedy, circus, dance, and everything in between. In fact, there’s often so much to see and do that it’s hard to cut through the noise and work out what should be on your ‘definite’ to-do list – especially if you’re working to a tight time budget.
Here are just a few reasons to make sure that the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is on that list – we promise you won’t regret it.
Tattoo photography by Scotch Whisky Experience’s Julie Trevisan-Hunter and Visitor Assistant Ben Thompson.
1. The setting
A beautiful city steeped with fascinating, complex history is the perfect backdrop for the greatest show on earth, especially one that celebrates and commemorates that history and brings it to life with music and dancing. And as the buzz and bustle of the Edinburgh festivals goes on below you, it’s a magical experience to sit in the audience of the Tattoo stands that flank Edinburgh Castle, in the excited hush that descends as you wait for the first act to start…
2. A truly Scottish experience
Let’s face it – it doesn’t get more Scottish than an evening watching traditional Scottish performance of the massed pipes and drums, accompanied by traditional highland dancing of the Tattoo Dance Company and a light show to take your breath away. Or does it? Situated just adjacent to the Tattoo stands and the Castle Esplanade, Amber Restaurant at the Scotch Whisky Experience offers pre-show dining packages that showcase the best in exquisite local produce, all matched with drams of Scotch whisky that’s been paired by the experts. These packages sell out fast, but make a truly spectacular gift or celebratory experience, especially if you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to bonny Scotland.
3. An explosion of sheer talent
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo brings groups and individuals, military and civilian, from all over the world in a display that’s unlikely to be seen on such a spectacular scale at any other time of the year. Remember this is a special breed of military performers who will be there whatever the weather – it’s worth noting that the Tattoo has never been cancelled, not even when it rains, so bring appropriate clothing! And they always bring their A-game, despite going on stage nearly every single day for more than three weeks. Whatever day you visit, you’re in for a multi-sensory treat that will feel like that performance is just for you.
4. We challenge you not to get a tear in your eye when Auld Lang Syne is played
One of the most iconic traditional Scottish tunes, played on the bagpipes, will have many Tattoo-goers up in their seats, hand over hand as the melody of Auld Lang Syne rings out across the stands. If you want to experience Scotland at its proudest and most heart-warming, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is the place to do it. Another moment of sheer goosebumps in the Lone Piper on the battlements of the castle – rarely will you experience a more evocative sound and atmosphere as the evening draws towards its spectacular close.
5. The fireworks
No festival extravaganza would be complete without a firework finale, and the Tattoo holds a display every night (twice a night on Saturdays) to mark the end of the performance. If you’re not lucky enough to get a ticket, keep Edinburgh Castle in your line of sight as you travel around the city during the evening, ready to catch the fireworks from down below. You’ll find that they become a useful indicator of the time, too – handy if you’ve not got your watch on!
Top tips for seeing the Tattoo fireworks
The fireworks start at around 22:30 each evening of the week, and at around 21:00 and 00:00 on Saturday evenings. There is no Tattoo performance on Sundays.
As a final extra bonus some guests book on the undisclosed lucky dates which are graced with a flyover to start the performance. The Tattoo disclose the dates once the performances begin in August so it is a lottery if you will see one on your chosen evening, but a real treat if you do!
Find out more about making the most of your time in Edinburgh – take a whisky tour at the Scotch Whisky Experience, which sits just next door to Edinburgh Castle and the iconic Tattoo Stands