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A Kaleidoscope of Colour for The 2019 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Updated: Aug 16, 2020

With the theme Kaleidoscope, The 2019 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which opens this week will take inspiration from the optical invention, created by Scottish physicist Sir David Brewster in 1816, in direct comparison to the tattoo’s festival of colour, light and music!

This years Massed Pipes and Drums will feature Pipers and Drummers from many British Army regiments and also countries from across the world including New Zealand and Tasmania making it 250 strong! The tattoo’s own Pipers Trail will also be giving the opportunity to 29 Pipers and Drummers forming two ranks in the Massed Pipes and Drums. Hjaltibonhoga, the tattoo’s other home grown ensemble will also be bringing a display of traditional Scottish fiddle playing, touching on the colours of blue and indigo, the colours of the waters around the Shetland Isles.

For the first time an act from Nigeria will perform at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The National Guard Band, Silent Dill Platoon and dancers from all of Nigeria’s regions will fill the esplanade with an amazing performance by what is hoped to be one hundred performers! The act will represent the colour of orange, drawing on the earthy colours of the African Continent.

From Europe the colours of blue and green will be explored with The French Artillery Band from Lyon, who are becoming the second ever French military band to participate at the event and then Heeresmusikkorps Kassel, a German Army Band will also march on the esplanade giving the audiences an excellent display of Brass playing while celebrating the day of the hunt, with some incredible horn sounds. Both acts will be joined by The Tattoo Dance Company who will be performing throughout the event.

The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra is making a welcome return to the annual event, bringing the sights and sounds of tropical sunshine and carnival and representing the colour of yellow in the Kaleidoscope.

China will bring both a University and a High school marching Wind Band and of course lots of traditional coloured dragons. This forges a good link with the tattoo and China and part of the story that is forming of the tattoo taking the event on tour next year to the country.

From New Zealand, the Lochiel Marching Drill Team, the champions of the sport in NZ for multiple years are returning to to Edinburgh after their last visit in 2016 to perform to the appreciative audiences. The specially composed score of which they will march to will also pay tribute to their illustrious leader, Colleen who had led the team for over 50 years before her sudden death at the start of this year. They will represent the colour of white, giving a reflective feel and also what is the colour of their uniform. Also, from New Zealand are the Christchurch City Pipe Band, who will form up as part of the 250 strong Massed Pipes and Drums. The ever popular New Zealand Army Band who will bring their famous sights and sounds are returning for their 5th year. The band, originally a brass band now also has a strong vocal and rhythm section which enhances their popular performances! They will take on the colours of black and silver.

The Bands of the Scots and Irish Guards will combine with The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and form a 150 strong symphonic wind band to march up and down Edinburgh Castle’s famous esplanade. The combined bands formed from 3 of The Corps of Army Music’s State Bands will bring the colour red and provide a sense of British pride and a large orchestra and military sound! At the end of the display, the Massed Pipes and Drums will return with The Massed Military Bands in a specially composed piece of music, so that it can be conducted every 8 bars within the piece for the drill movements to occur. They will start with a collision like display before moving into movements to create the imagery of a Kaleidoscope!

The finale will feature music from The Greatest Showman, reflecting on what the event has got to be known as (The Greatest Show) and also 'The Show Must Go On' the last ever song by Queen Front man Freddie Mercury that has been specially arranged for this year’s Tattoo Fireworks Display. The 2019 Guards of Honour this year will be formed from The Royal Logistic Corps and the National Silent Drill Platoon from Nigeria. The tattoo is also piloting a new idea of overhead projection onto the ground of the esplanade this year to create an even more exciting visual display. The sound system has also been upgraded to give the audience a better surround sound experience. The bands have been fitted with trackers and as they move down the esplanade the sound will move accordingly through the tattoo’s sound system!

In a slight change from proceedings this year in the finale sequence, the tattoo will end with the Massed Bands marching out of the arena and down Castle Hill, however, a lone drummer will remain on the esplanade to perform ‘Taptoo’. This will trace the event back to its’s original inception, whereby a drummer marched through the streets signalling to the bar owners for the beer Taps to be shut Off and the soldiers to return to barracks.

This years tattoo is set to be an exciting festival of music, vision and colour to entertain the audiences of 220,000 live at Edinburgh castle for the 25 performances in Edinburgh and then the millions that will watch around the world on TV!

A few remaining tickets can be bought by visiting the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo’s website:

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