Edinburgh Military Tattoo

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The world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo was first held in 1950.

Since then it has attracted 12 million visitors, 217,000 of which attend each year, whilst 100 million watch it on television worldwide.

To say that it is a success is something of an understatement then.

The term tattoo is a corruption of "Doc Den Tap Toe", a cry heard at closing time at inns in the low countries in the 17th and 18th centuries. It means 'turn off the taps' and allowed military persons drinking there 30 minutes to return to their barracks before lights out.

The tattoo takes place over three weeks every August on the parade ground in front of the mighty Edinburgh Castle and there are 24 performances, each of which lasts around an hour and a half.

The organisers have got the arrangements down to a fine art, massive temporary grandstands to the three sides of the ground perhaps even rivalling the floodlit castle itself.

There are huge crowds all along the Royal Mile leading to the castle, as the event coincides with the Edinburgh Festival, yet the crowds are marshalled effectively and reasonably swiftly in broad snaking lines and admission is soon gained.

The visitor roll-call of countries worldwide announced by the very professional and amusing commentator drew cheers from audience members all around, showing the popularity of the event.

There are usually five or six pipe bands taking part, many from overseas, all resplendent in their splendid band uniforms and playing many varied and unusual instruments.

Marching routines are intricate and complex, making the observer wonder at the total lack of collisions.

For 2013 the theme of the event was 'The Year of Natural Scotland' and 'Our Wonderful World' , kicked off by a sudden and unexpected flypast by two close-order Eurofighter aircraft whizzing over the crowd.

Beautifully costumed dancers and groups gave their interpretations of the themes throughout the evening whilst a London based motorcycle display team provided high speed thrills, despite the riders being aged from only six to thirteen years of age.

The bands came from all over the world from places such as New Zealand, Mongolia and South Korea as well as the UK based regiments. Spectacle indeed, topped off by a lone piper on the battlements and a firework display to bring the event to a stunning climax.

Hairs raised on the back of the neck stuff.

I had wanted to visit the Tattoo for many a year and is was well worth the wait. It comes highly recommended.

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