The Edinburgh Tattoo – You’ve Never Seen or Heard Anything Like It!

Last updated: Sep 21st, 2023

Seeing and hearing really is believing. With the title on the event’s site ‘The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo’, you’d expect a military procession with Scottish themes.

Trust us, it’s far more than what you’ll ever expect – it’s a whole feast of colour, culture, community, art, character and, of course, a HUGE dose of incredible music.

Check out our unforgettable experience.

The Walk Up to Edinburgh Castle – the Before the Show Buzz!


If you’re looking for an event with a phenomenal looking build-up and general atmospheric buzz from the Fringe, the Tattoo has you covered.

To begin, you walk up the beautiful Gothic Royal Mile and come to the doors of the also beautiful Edinburgh Castle. But what would usually be a flat courtyard now has a temporary stadium like stand built on the square – creating loads of electricity and anticipation! (it’s quite the sight from Prince’s Street too).

Crowds pack out the Royal Mile at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.


Finding Your Seats as the Electricity Builds


Seats are easy to come by with the super helpful directions everywhere you look.

But what’s special about the Tattoo is, if you’re lucky, your seats may go past a performer’s room, and if you’re especially lucky, you may see artists, musicians, singers and a whole host of other performers geeing themselves up with a before the show practice or warm-up (we caught a rapid-fire drum beat from four military clad drummers, which really got the adrenaline pumping!)

After that, you’ll easily access your open-air seats. And what can we say, but the view builds the anticipation, with the castle to one side and a U-shape of eagerly waiting audience members on the other three. The buzz is steadily building at this point.

Above the stands are flags from 19 countries – so trust you know there’s going to be a diverse and varied range of communities and performers.

Seats taken. We waited…


Then, the Castle Doors Opened and it was Go, Go, Go!


Imagine a silent castle and a crowd bubbling with energy and anticipation…

And then it was bang, bang, bang – go, go, go!

A slam of wood on old stone; flames shooting into the sky; cannons blasting out; the doors to the castle opening, and the first bagpipe led, drum supported, military procession marched out in perfect formation – their boots slapping the floor basically forming another instrument!

This was just the first in a vast array of brilliant performances from military personnel from across the globe. The Tattoo certainly lives up to its billing as an event part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that is for everyone.

Musicians, dancers, singers, bands – a massive number of different segments comprises the whole show, which lasted for around 90 minutes – smashing together modern and traditional elements to give you a real distinctive performance.

There’s a varied and vibrant selection of colour and uniforms too, from clean white to royal green, tartan blues and reds, solid Swiss red, strong pinks and browns all giving a real visual energy.

There’s steel pan, brass band, electronic violins, bass guitars, six-string guitars, DJs, keyboards, a type of xylophone and, against the whirl of things to see and hear and experience, likely to be a wealth of other instruments too!


A singer from the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra, wearing light blue and vibrant, colourful pink wings performs at the Edinburgh Tattoo.


Some of our favourite bits were:

  • A brass band playing the 118 song! 
  • Talented neon clothed dancers dancing to an incredible electronic violinist 
  • More dancers who changed their costumes mid-dance (still trying to work out how they did it!) 
  • Bright, artistic costumed performers from the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra, who injected a dose of Caribbean magic, which included limbo, moveable floats and fire dancing! 
  • And when all the dust had settled, the solo bag piper playing classic Scottish hymns from the castle walls 


The whole performance ebbed and flowed, upbeat one minute, then slower the next minute to give you a moments breath, but each segment was short enough to keep you engaged and the full Tattoo kept you going at full throttle for the total 90 minutes.

Oh, and there were literal fireworks too, and what seemed like every section performing at once to give you the ultimate performance arts climax, right at the end.

You won’t be bored at the Tattoo – there’s too much to see, to listen to, to experience, and because of the energy and pace of the show – you just don’t have the time to!


Keep those Hands High!


A military band with bagpipers, drums, banner holders, performs in formation in a night time Edinburgh Tattoo with Edinburgh Castle in the background.

But this wasn’t just a sit and listen and watch affair – far from it! 

Performances and performers had you clapping, dancing and even standing to sing the national anthem. You felt part of something special, something monumental – an explosion of culture, music and colour and togetherness. 

You experienced something you’re likely to never come across again. An absolute standout lifetime memory. 

The Edinburgh Tattoo: The End

The Tattoo is captivating, historic, varied, vibrant, colourful, atmospheric, rocking and absolutely full of energy and feel-good vibes.

And it’s something you, quite simply, can’t afford to miss.

If you want it as part of your itinerary, we can expertly slot it in to suit you. Just call or email us by pressing the button below.

Get in touch

Related Articles

Edinburgh Fringe green flag attached to a streetlamp with St Giles in the right background.

We Went to the Fringe: Marketing's Brilliant First Time Experience

This is our first hand experience from our very first time at the largest performance arts festival in the world - the Edinburgh Fringe!

Choir leader of Fab Choir speaks with the crowd in Brewhemia.

First Time Performing at the Fringe – What to Expect

Want an insight into what the Scottish capital is like when you're performing there in Fringe? Check this out!

Royal Mile in Edinburgh Fringe

Edinburgh Fringe is More Accessible Than You Might Think 

Rising costs and it's huge popularity mean you might think Edinburgh Fringe is a challenge to get to. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how accessible…