The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo



August is without a doubt the best time of year to visit Edinburgh. Not only because temperatures change from sub zero to mildly tolerable but it’s also the month long arts festival. A city filled with comedy, theatre, pop up bars and restaurants all which give Edinburgh a unique buzz throughout August.

I was invited to spend the day with Festivals Edinburgh to explore the city and squeeze five festivals into one day, including The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, my personal favourite this year.




The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place from 2nd – 26th August and is Scotland’s biggest outdoor spectacle, attracting an international audience of two hundred and twenty thousand people each year. Located on the esplanade of the iconic Edinburgh castle, over one thousand military and civilian performers from around the world congregate to perform the show of a lifetime.

The show incorporates a wide range of music, dance and precision display with massed pipes and drums, military bands, cultural troupes, singers as each country tells a story  of their heritage and culture and the moving piece of the lone piper against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.




We secured a prime position on the forecourt and got to experience the show up close and personal. Trinidad and Tobago’s Defence Force Steel Orchestra was a personal highlight as they brought a fun twist to the show along with the Hjaltibonhoga fiddlers from the Shetland Isles.

This year’s theme, Kaleidoscope, captures the imaginations of audience goers through a series of performances bold with colour and light, comparable to the optical invention which was created by Scottish physicist, Sir David Brewster, in 1816. I spoke briefly with Brigadier David Allfrey, chief executive and producer of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, who explained “The Tattoo is always looking to stimulate as many senses as possible: sight, hearing, smell, touch and even taste.” And is set to be the “most colourful and extravagant show yet”.




This unforgettable performance is brought to an emotional and poignant close each evening as a lone piper, spot lit high on top of the castle, plays a haunting lament. We were lucky enough to view the finale from above the crowd as fireworks and a mass chorus of Auld Lang Syne from the audience brought the curtain down on a truly memorable night’s entertainment.




The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo can be pretty pricey and always sells out in record time so ensure to grab your tickets early. Alternatively, tickets for the pre-show performance (which takes place on the Thursday night) go on sale the Monday before the show starts.

Check out some of the other festivals that we visited throughout the day;

  • Edinburgh Art Festival – 25th July to 25th August
  • Edinburgh Fringe – 2nd to 26th August
  • Edinburgh International Festival – 2nd to 26th August
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival – 10th to 26th August

Remember to wrap up as the show is outdoors. Thanks for reading, keep up with my latest adventures – A Bonnie Travelers Inside Guide




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