Magical Isle of Mingay

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo

If a building can have personality, then Edinburgh Castle, the dramatic setting for the Edinburgh Tattoo, certainly has. There is an obvious pride about the place - perhaps in its own magnificent demeanour, perhaps for the Scottish nation, for which it has stood as a guardian for many centuries. Of course, it has a great air of mystery. And, curiously for one who h witnessed many grim events, it also has a positive, welcoming warmth. Perhaps relieved that the days of discord are gone, the castle has a harmonious aspect. Its early history is unclear. Perched on an extinct volcano some 135 metres above sea level, it was converted to a royal residence in the11th century by Queen (later Saint) Margaret. Her son, David I, built a small chapel in her memory, and this gem of a building is the oldest surviving structure on the castle rock today.

The Edingburgh Tattoo

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo was conceived and first performed in 1950 as the Army in Scotland's contribution to the Edinburgh International Festival. Today, with its unique blend of music, ceremony, entertainment, and theatre set against the amazing backdrop of Edinburgh castle, it is without question one of the world's greatest shows.
Each year, 200,000 people see the Tattoo. They come from every corner of the globe (around 35 per cent of the audience is from overseas), and they are joined each year by around 100 million worldwide
who enjoy it on television. At the heart of every Tattoo's universal appeal is the stirring sight of the massed pipes and drums of the Scottish regiments. But the Tattoo is not just a Scottish show, nor is it confined to music. Over the years it has presented a whole host of international performers - military and civilian - from 30 countries. Bands of all sizes and descriptions have been joined, for example, by dancers, flag-wavers, drill teams, camels, elephants, cavalry, motorcyclists, and RAF police dogs. The result is an unforgettable annual spectacle that is rightly renowned worldwide - and one which has taken its place as the very drum beat of the Edinburgh International Festival.
From this beginning, a 'tattoo' became a ceremonial performance of military music by massed bands, and the Edinburgh Tattoo is the leading example of the modern development of the early events held in Britain, Germany, Austria and France. The massed display of pipers at Edinburgh usually come from the regular infantry battalions of the Scottish Division assisted by other regiments and corps, together with representatives from overseas. The pipers and drummers are regular soldiers in the main, including some from overseas, for whom piping must come second to combat duty. Many will have attended the Army School of Bagpipe Music at Edinburgh castle. In addition, they have been reinforced at the Tattoo by military, civilian, and police pipe bands from many overseas countries, including India, Canada, Australia, Oman, Hong Kong, and Pakistan.The range of music presented at the Edinburgh Tattoo is now as diverse as the countries represented. From pomp and circumstance to showbiz razzamataz - with just about everything in between - the audience can now expect to hear, for example, New Orleans jazz, modern pop, and Bavarian music. With the lone piper playing his haunting lament high on the ramparts above the arena and the moving communal singing of the evening hymn, 'Abide with me',the Edinburgh Tattoo continues to have music as its heart and soul. And it has come a long way since, and is a far cry from, closing time in the Low Countries!
Think of the Edinburgh Tattoo and inevitably one thinks of music - almost certainly the music of the pipes and drums. This is as it should be, for the whole spectacle of the Tattoo not only has music at its heart, it also has it at its historical roots. The word 'tattoo' derives from the cry of the innkeepers in the Low Countries in the 17th and 18th centuries. At closing time, the fifes and drums of the local regiment would march through the streets, their music signalling a return to quarters, and the shout would go up - 'Doe den tap toe'('turn off the taps').

Twenty Facts about the
Edinburgh Military Tattoo

1. The first Edinburgh Tattoo took place in 1950. There were eight items in the programme.
2. More than 9.8 million people have attended the Tattoo. The annual audience is 200,000.
3. Around 100 million people see the Tattoo each year on international television.
4. Approximately 70 per cent of each audience is from outwith Scotland. Half of these are from overseas.
5. The average number of participants is 800.
6. The first stand was erected in 1951.
7. The present stands are made up from more than 10,000 metres of steel tubing. Some 20,000 nuts and bolts are used.
8. Around 35 miles of cabling (the distance from Edinburgh to Glasgow) is required.
9. The event was first seen in colour on TV in 1968.
10. From 1950 to 1991, there were three producers - Brigadier MacLean, Brigadier Sanderson, and Lt. Col. Dow.
11. Major Michael Parker then took over as producer for the 1992, 1993 and 1994 Tattoos. He was succeeded by Brigadier Melville Jameson in 1995.
12. The first overseas regiment to participate was the Band of the Royal Netherlands Grenadiers. The year was 1952, and there were also performers from Canada and France.
13. The first lone piper was Pipe Major George Stoddart. He played in every performance for the first eleven years.
14. One woman has featured as the lone piper. Officer Cadet Elaine Marnoch appeared in 1977.
15. Not a single performance of the Tattoo has ever been cancelled.
16. The colours of the original Tattoo tartan are navy blue (for the Navy), red (for the Army), sky blue (for the RAF), and black and white (for the city of Edinburgh). It was officially approved in 1983.
17. A new tartan - the Edinburgh Military Tattoo Jubilee tartan - has been produced to mark both the Tattoo's 50th show and Golden Anniversary.
18. The Tattoo has always been staged at Edinburgh Castle. Rehearsals take place at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh.
19. 30 countries have been represented at the Tattoo.
20. The word 'tattoo' comes from the closing time cry in the inns of the Low Countries during the 17th and 18th centuries - Doe den tap toe ('turn off the taps').

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