The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo


When Chris and I began thinking about this trip, I was interested in Scotland because of the Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldon. As I was researching, I knew we would have to go in August. There are a plethora of festivals and events each year in Edinburgh. You can’t do much research for a visit to this great city without coming across the Tattoo.

Chris and I love to see shows. Shows of all kinds. The Tattoo is described as the greatest show on earth. It takes place on the castle esplanade and combines music, show, ceremony, dance, and awesome atmosphere. Besides picking our dates, this was the first real thing we purchased for our trip.

With the Tattoo, they run packages. We chose to splurge here and get the Wallace package. They totally sold me with their description:

“Enjoy pre-performance guided tour of The Scotch Whisky Experience, including a viewing of the World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky, followed by a Whisky Cocktail and canapés reception with members of the Tattoo cast before being escorted to the Castle Esplanade. Your package will include:-

  • Pre-performance guided tour of The Scotch Whisky Experience
  • Private viewing of the World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky
  • Whisky cocktail or soft drink with canapés in the John McIntyre Gallery
  • The opportunity to mingle with members of the Tattoo cast
  • A host to accompany you from The Scotch Whisky Experience to the Castle Esplanade
  • A centrally located seat in Section 4 of the outdoor arena.
  • An official Tattoo souvenir programme for each guest”

The Scotch Whisky Experience was something to see. They started us out with some history and then led us into a tasting room. We learned about the different regions of Scotland and the characteristics of each regions malt whisky. Today, they recognize 4 main regions: the Lowlands, the Highlands, Speyside, and Islay. Chris tried the Highland and I tried a whisky blended liquor. I’m not much of a drinker, but I do enjoy trying different whiskys. I feel there’s more to them then the taste of alcohol.

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Did I mention there are 3,500 bottles of never been opened whisky in their collection? That was a site to see. Some of those bottles are pieces of art in and of themselves.

After we finished with a cool barrel ride through more Scottish whisky history, we went on to enjoy some crudites and drinks with some of the members of the Tattoo cast. We met a member of US Airforce Color Guard. This was the first year they’d been back to the Tattoo after an extended absence. Getting to meet some of the cast members really made the show that much more personable and special.

About 30 minutes before show time, we were walked to our seats and given our programs. By using the Rick Steves Travel Forum, and doing some additional research with Trip Advisor and various sites, I was able to ascertain what I thought would be the best seats for Chris and I. We chose seats in Section 4, H-3 and H-4. They were the best!

I can’t put into words the spectacle that was the Tattoo. The music, performers, and show were beautiful and so well done. These performers are some of the best at what they do. 2015’s theme was East meets West. The Chinese dancers, and their dragon show were a favorite of Chris. For me, I loved the Scottish dancers and the pipe bands.

And now for the photos:

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I loved every minute of this show. Chris wanted to capture it in its entirety on film for posterity. We were both trying to look everywhere at once! The evening was pretty chilly, but after the show started, we had no attention left for anything but what was on the esplanade in front of us.

If you’re planning a trip to Scotland, I highly recommend going during the festival season and planning to see the Tattoo. It was not only a highlight of the trip, but a highlight of our life. We really had that much fun.

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