The Edinburgh Military Tattoo

This is my fourth time to visit Scotland. Every other time I’ve been here in the summer, we missed the Tattoo by just a few days.

Have I mentioned that I’m a sucker for musical shows and pageantry?

This time, as soon as I knew we’d be here at the right time I started pestering Brian to take me to see it.

Pester, pester, pester.

We got our tickets last week, and I’ve been counting the days until the big night.

Last night was it!


We picked up our tickets earlier in the day, and left our flat again at 8pm to make the twenty minute walk to the castle. We joined the throngs of people and were herded into our bleacher seats like very enthusiastic cattle.


We didn’t have long to wait. The sky got a little bit darker as we watched everyone do the pre-show shuffle. The flags fluttered in the breeze, the crowd chattered, Brian cracked jokes about the English with the guy sitting next to him, as you do.

Then the fun began.

There was a formal little ceremony to start with, which had something to do with drinking whiskey because, you know… Scotland.


Then the pipers came out and raised the roof.


For nearly two hours we watched bands of all description play, and march with total precision.


And watched highland dancers spin and jump in perfect unison.


The tartan was flying.


There were pipe bands, brass bands, drum corps, singers, dancers, flute and pipe players, and even a kid on a bike.


Sorry, I didn’t get a photo of the kid on the bike, but he did some cool tricks while Brian and I had an argument about what color Dennis the Menace’s hair is. Apparently Scottish Dennis has black hair, but American Dennis is blond. We’ll agree to disagree on which one is correct.

Edit: Brian thinks he won that argument, lol.

There was a flyover by a couple of Navy fighter planes, but the cloud cover kept us from seeing them as they roared overhead. At least the clouds lifted by the finale so we had a perfect view of the fireworks which closed the show.


There are videos online, so I won’t recap the whole performance. Instead I’ll show you how the Scots do the best theater backdrop ever.

Behold, the castle slideshow and lighting effect awesomeness:


I can’t decide what my favorite part was. It’s a toss up between the castle light show and the Swiss Top Secret Drum Corps. This isn’t my video, but it’s from this year’s performance. It’s a little long, but man they were good!


The show closed with the lone piper playing on the castle ramparts. Haunting, sad and beautiful all at the same time.


Even the slow exodus out of the stands and castle walk couldn’t take that smile off my face as we every so slowly creeped our way down the bleacher stairs, and out the stadium gates with thousands of people all leaving through a very narrow street all at the same time. It made me grateful all over again that we are staying within walking distance and didn’t have to do battle for a taxi just to get home.

Everyone was in good spirits though, and there were plenty of jokes and laughter going around.

My bucket list took another hit. I’ll mark this one off with a smile.

On the map: Click here to see this location on our Google Map.

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About akil3655

A Scotsman and his American photographer wife traveling the world and writing about it. Tales, reviews, photos, interviews and crazy goings on. Because you never know what's going to happen.

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4 Responses to The Edinburgh Military Tattoo

  1. Rachel August 23, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    Looks amazing! I’m so adding this to my to do list! Seems like you are having a blast there. So happy for you guys :)

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      August 23, 2012 at 10:39 am #

      Rachel, I am LOVING Edinburgh. I now we’re only here for a short time, so we’re trying to soak it all in.

      And if you ever have a chance, definitely don’t miss the Tattoo. Amazing!

  2. Nancy B August 27, 2012 at 1:08 am #

    The video was amazing. Better than Stomp!! Simply a.m.a.z.i.n.g!