The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a stirring and inspiring display of the best of Scotland’s history and culture, and it is a must see if you are planning a visit to Edinburgh in the summer time.
I would even go as far as to suggest that it is well worth planning your whole trip around, if you are traveling to Scotland around the month of August!
The Tattoo draws an audience from all over the world for its yearly three week run, each summer in August. Over 217,000 people attend the Tattoo each summer.
This worldwide family gathers together amidst the splendor of the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade for the most spellbinding and extensive display of bagpipes and men in kilts that you are ever likely to see!
The word “Tattoo” used in reference to a gathering of military pipes comes from the phrase “doe den tap toe” (basically Dutch for “last call” at the bar).
The British adopted it and regiments of pipes and drums would stroll through cities to signal to tavern owners that it was time for last call, so that the military men would retire to bed at a decent time.
In addition to proudly featuring the heart and soul of Scottish culture in grand fashion, the Tattoo features military regiments from other countries all over the world.
The precision marching is breathtaking, especially when combined with the massed pipes and drums (think of the droning wail of hundreds of bagpipes…it awakens something deep in my heart just to think of it!).
This soul stirring show climaxes with a lone piper playing an ancient Scottish lament from the wall of Edinburgh Castle.
This is followed by the entire audience singing Auld Lang Syne accompanied by a heap of bagpipers (it doesn’t matter if you know the words or not, and once you have sung this well loved Scottish anthem with thousands of Scots and others from all over the world, you will understand why tickets for this event sell out months ahead of time!)
- Didn’t buy tickets ahead of time but you find yourself unexpectedly in Edinburgh during the Tattoo’s yearly August run? Show sold out? Don’t panic! It is sometimes possible to purchase last minute tickets on the day of he show. Check in first thing upon opening on the day of the show at the The Tattoo Ticket Sales Office, (33-34 Market Street, Edinburgh). Their hours are from 10:00am-4:30pm (might be good to get there a smidge ahead of time, in case there is a queue). Available tickets are sold on the day of the show (limited to two per person).
A tip for seating: If good photos are a priority for you, splurge for the seats at the end of the esplanade (not down the sides). These seats will give you the castle as a backdrop for you photos (the castle is lit up in different colors during different parts of the show, making for some awesome photo opps!)
If you are planning a trip to Scotland, please check out these other helpful pieces:
- The Best Fish and Chips in Scotland
- A Tour of the Edinburgh Royal Mile
- The Isle of Skye: Awe Inspiring Scenery on Scotland’s West Coast