The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Edinburgh offers the most amazing amount of things to do and see – this was my third visit and still so much more left for future visits. I was disappointed to have missed this one…

Perhaps there will be a repeat one day.

We were there during the start of the festival, and the town was buzzing! However, the event we were there to see is not actually a part of the festival itself, although the timings coincided this year.

Who hasn’t heard of the Edinburgh Tattoo? Or to give it it’s full title: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

No, not one of those ink designs you get drilled into your skin; a military tattoo is an armed forces musical and theatrical display. (From Wikipedia) “The term comes from the early 17th century Dutch phrase doe den tap toe (“turn off the tap”), a signal sounded by drummers or trumpeters to instruct innkeepers near military garrisons to stop serving beer and for soldiers to return to their barracks.”

I do believe, when experiencing such events, to go the whole hog, so I booked us in for a special package.

This consisted of a 3 course meal, with canapes before, and Scottish tablet after (tablet is a form of hard fudge) with whiskey tasting at each course, prior to the tattoo. It included the programme and top tier seats, along with preferential entry (no queues), plus a mini-performance with some of the cast during the meal.

Expensive? Hell yes, but worth it!

There are lots of different packages available, this one took place at THE SCOTCH WHISKY EXPERIENCE

Here’s the menu:

Now, I assumed we would be choosing from this menu, but no! We got the lot!!

Note the empty whisky glass – that was from the starter course. We were also treated to a talk about each whisky before sampling, from a very funny lady – perfect to fill the gaps between courses.

Here’s a look at the dining room

None of us had met before – this couple were from Switzerland. Other nationalities on our table were Austrian, American and this delightful couple from Australia – really getting into their Scottish roots:

The post-dinner entertainment consisted of a section of the school choir that always performs at the tattoo, prior to taking their positions for the main performance.

As we wended our somewhat tipsy way out to the castle (there was also as much wine as you could drink along with the meal and whisky), we were treated to a viewing of one of the world’s largest private whisky collections – I really don’t like to think how much this must be worth.

And then it was out to the esplanade, and stagger up the steep steps to our seats and their commanding view. We were two rows in front of the Royal Box.

And then it began!

Introducing the tattoo dance troupe

The 2019 theme was ‘Kaleidoscope’, so plenty of colour was on offer from military performers from across the globe: Nigeria, Germany, Trinidad and Tobago, France, New Zealand, Tasmania, Canada, Nepal, and China, along with Scottish regiments and Shetland fiddlers.

Here’s a few samples: steel drums from Trinidad and Tobago (by the way, many of these performers were staying on campus, and we’d been privy to a few bits of rehearsal in the week running up to the tattoo. We’d bumped into the T&T guys in the canteen – boy, they are HUGE! You seriously wouldn’t want to meet them in battle – thank goodness they were only beating their drums!)

Then it was the turn of the French

Back to Scottish dancing

And the incredible New Zealand army formation marching troupe – I wasn’t sure about this to begin with, the performance area is so huge I thought they might seem insignificant out there, but their routine is amazing, I just wish I’d captured more of it.

And back to more Scottish dancing – by this time it was getting dark

There was so much more to the performance than I can possibly share here, and it wasn’t – quite – over, even after the mass cast ensemble

Because, of course,  The Show Must Go On…

And so we staggered walked back to the hotel, a 15 minute head clearance, and arrived looking just a little shell-shocked, but well entertained!

I hope you enjoyed that taster of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

7 comments

  1. A lovely post, Deborah. We didn’t attend this event. I don’t like crowds.

    1. I can understand that, I don’t either, which is why I can only take cities in short bursts.

  2. That was amazing. If I’d run across that anywhere but on your blog, I would have scuttled past, thinking I knew what it was about. What a joy to read.

    1. So pleased to have enlightened and entertained you Jacqui – I never knew the origin of the term ‘tattoo’ until I researched it for this piece – always great to learn new stuff 😀

  3. Deb, this was fantastic. I was delighted to live vicariously through you. Loved the menu, the booze tour, lol, and thanks for the snippets of grand entertainment, I could just imagine how amazing the experience was. Although I do have to say I enjoyed the Scottish music the best as the other music didn’t feel like Scotland, lol. And you both looking fab there! Thanks for sharing. ❤

    1. I’m delighted to have entertained you ❤
      I was a little concerned the post might be too long for many, but I also look on it as my personal diary of such events, and I enjoyed watching those clips again.
      Totally with you on the music – I really didn't go with the German and Chinese displays, hence they weren't included – too nationalistic for me. Thankfully there was lots and lots of Scottish (unsurprisingly!) 😀

      1. What a fantastic experience, and I for one thoroughly enjoyed. 🙂 x

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