I was having one of those, ‘how do I get to do this?’ moments – I’ve had a few through my travel blogging career. I was stood right at the front of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo with a guard looking me in the eye.
I was on the forecourt of the Edinburgh Castle, at the annual Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. A time when the Military comes from all different countries to show off their colours, skills, dancing and finery for an audience of thousands, for 23 nights in August.
Come RAIN or SHINE.
Thankfully for us it’d been a pretty balmy day, especially from what I’ve experienced of Edinburgh standards in the past. And yet, stood on the castle’s hill for three hours, wearing all the clothes I’d bought, it was freezing. Apparently they haven’t missed a show yet so I can’t imagine some of the conditions they’ve been out in.
With one of the most important military members taking a whisky to start the show (Prince William has done it in the past), it began in a blaze of music. I was glad of the ‘wee dram’ I’d just had in what was touting itself as the ‘smallest pub in Scotland’, on the famous Grassmarket. From my forth visit to Scotland, I can confirm that the reason they’re known for drinking so much whisky, is to keep warm.
But anyway, enough of the typical British commentary on the weather…
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Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2018
To start, the MC had the audience riled up to start by repeatedly asking where people were from, and getting them to whoop.
Anyone from… China? ‘Woooooo’
Our neighbours in England? ‘Yeahhhhh, wooo’.
Scotland? Cue biggest cheer of all.
That kinda thing.
The rest of the show unfolded in a blaze of incredible, pressed uniforms, with fireworks, drums, animals and marching bands. Particular highlights included Mexico with ‘Despacito’, Oman with their horse parade and fantastic army of women, and Switzerland twizzling each other around in a cacophony of dance as well as music.
Each country’s demonstrations involved projections onto the castle – the light and imagery being as intricately detailed as the dance and march. The Scilly Islands had a seagull show, the Americans an ode to its discovery, and Star Wars, and the Mexicans were the most colourful of them all, as they often are.
Of course, the bagpipes were out for Scotland.
Did you even got to Scotland if you didn’t hear a bagpipe?
You definitely didn’t go to Edinburgh.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo was a magical experience. Genuinely. Stood there, with the majestic Edinburgh Castle as the backdrop, in all its rich historical glory, with the finest drummers and marchers representing their country, and the forecourt flanked to the sky with people who’d come to Edinburgh as part of the famously festival-filled August was just fantastic.
I had a press pass, which had given me the awesome viewpoint at the front of the forecourt with the Edinburgh Castle behind the action. Prime location. And then, just before the finale began, a whisper, well shout, in my ear, “do you want to go up the top… it’s really, really cold though?!’
Unfortunately everyone else would have to deal with the freeze, I wasn’t wasting this once in a lifetime opportunity. And so we climbed the bleachers for a birds-eye-view over the 1200 performers.
I finished the 2018 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo from the wonderfully unique spot, looking over the forecourt and the castle, the other way, a city I love, Edinburgh.
As the eerily beautiful notes from the penultimate song, Amazing Grace, rode the cold August Edinburgh air the rest of the makeshift stadium was silent. This was the perfect end to our 3-day Edinburgh Fringe Festival jaunt.
Everyone in the show – from the girls representing the Edinburgh Girls School in Malawi, to The Central Band of the Czech Armed Forces – came out for the extended finale, starting with the awesome Mr Blue Sky.
And finally, with everyone standing looking up, a lone soldier stood on a turret of the Edinburgh Castle trumpeted out The Last Post.
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My Edinburgh Military Tattoo experience
The Military Tattoo was better than I imagined it to be. I’d actually only heard of the Edinburgh Tattoo, two years ago when I was in Edinburgh for Hogmanay – their epic New Year’s Eve party.
It really is brilliant though.
To be able to have my viewpoint was awesome obviously, but I’d totally go next time I’m in Edinburgh in August and get a ticket in the stands. You can pick up a ticket from £25, or splash the cash and there are tickets for meals in Edinburgh Castle before, or hotel packages. I’d definitely recommend getting a ticket front on, if the budget allows, for the full Edinburgh Castle effect, and make sure you wrap up warm!
For more details about the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, check out the website. In 2019 it runs from the 2nd to 24th August – and you can visit the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and all the other festivals Edinburgh has in August too!
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I was at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo thanks to Edinburgh Festival City. They look after the 11 big Edinburgh festivals every year. I was invited to Edinburgh for three days, to check out the Fringe, the Art Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe in return for coverage on my blog.