Facts and figures about The Edinburgh Tattoo
The Tattoo remains a colourful and dramatic addition to the city’s festival scene
This article is from 2013.
Still going strong after all these years, the Tattoo remains a colourful and dramatic addition to the city’s festival scene. Edward Dudgeon and Brian Donaldson compile an A-Z of facts and figures
A is for Auld Lang Syne
The ever-popular Burns anthem is sung at the end of each Tattoo so make sure your arm-linking skills are up to par.
B is for Brigadier David Allfrey
The Tattoo producer has been in his present role since taking over for the 2011 event. He is only the seventh producer in the Tattoo’s history.
C is for Charity
The Tattoo is set up and run for charitable purposes and has gifted some £5m to organisations of both a service and civilian persuasion down the years.
D is for DC Thomson
Last year, a unique brand of cartoonish mayhem was injected into proceedings with the appearances of Dennis the Menace and Minnie the Minx.
E is for Economic Benefits
At the last official count, visitors to the Tattoo contributed an estimated £88m to the Scottish economy.
F is for First
The Tattoo made its debut in 1950 with just eight items in the programme.
G is for Genghis Khan
The story of the notorious 13th-century Mongol warrior will be told this year through music, song and dance featuring some traditional throat singers.
H is for Hollywood
Tinseltown film producer Mike Todd (the fourth husband of Elizabeth Taylor) made a documentary on the Tattoo in 1950.
I is for Imps
The youth motorcycle team will be back once again with its usual display of expertise and bravery.
J is for Jewellery
The Tattoo shop houses a neat line in jewellery including a bagpipes brooch, Celtic pendant and thistle earrings.
K is for Korea
Represented for only the second time ever at the Tattoo and the first appearance since 2003.
L is for Lone Piper
The first Lone Piper was Pipe Major George Stoddart. He played in every performance for the first 11 years. His son, Major Gavin Stoddart, has followed in his father’s footsteps.
M is for Mexico
The Aguiluchos Marching Band from Puebla will make their debut this year. Folk dancers will get jigging to the 100-strong group’s Mariachi vibe.
N is for New Plymouth Brass Band
Leigh Martin, the musical director of the NPBB in New Zealand, will be bringing his sousaphone to the Tattoo this year. It will be only his second trip to the event and the first alongside his 22-year-old cornet-playing son Raynor.
O is for Oz
As well as warmly welcoming New Zealanders, the Tattoo has strong links with Australia. Last year, Tap Dogs and the OzScot dance troupe performed and the Tattoo has made trips to the Antipodes: in 2010 a performance took place in Sydney’s football stadium.
P is for Pict
A Pictish warrior opened the 2012 Tattoo with a scene from ancient times in which the warrior was witnessed ‘seizing upon a shiny pebble and taking the audience to the start of a magical journey across the ages’.
Q is for the Queen
In 2010, the Queen awarded The Edinburgh Military Tattoo with a ‘Royal’ title, recognising its six decades of service to culture and entertainment. In 2012, the 60th anniversary of HM’s accession to the throne was the Tattoo’s main theme.
R is for Redford Barracks
This is the Edinburgh location for all rehearsals.
S is for Salute
The official magazine of the Tattoo.
T is for Tartan
If you want to attend in true head-turning style, you can have an outfit designed in your own specific tartan. From a kilted skirt for her and high-waist Highland trews for him, the Tattoo shop just about has it all.
U is for Uisge Beatha
The Water of Life (whisky to you and me) was celebrated last year with the Tattoo Highland Dancers and the Canadian Celtic Association telling the story of Scotland’s most successful export.
V is for Visitors
Around 217,000 people will witness the spectacular event across its three-week period.
W is for Weather
Other than a spectacular visual experience, the only other thing that can be guaranteed is that at some point during the month it will rain. Please ensure you have a suitable poncho and/or massive umbrella to hand.
X is for Xenodochial
From the Greek word for ‘strangers’, the Tattoo is nothing if not a hospitable event for outsiders, opening its arms wide to those from outside these shores. Approximately 70% of each audience is from outside Scotland.
Y is for Year of Natural Scotland
This year’s Tattoo will showcase Scotland’s extraordinary landscape, flora and fauna.
Z is for Zero
Not a single performance of the Tattoo has ever been cancelled.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh Castle, 0131 225 1188, 2–24 Aug, Mon–Fri, 9pm, £24–£58; Sat, 7.30pm, 10.30pm, £26–£60.