Sunday, 9 August 2009

Day 27 & 28 - Scotland East Coast - Edinburgh - The famous Tattoo

Every year in August, Edinburgh turns into the world's festival city. The International Festival is all about the old classics: operas, orchestras, ballet and dance. The opening concert, for instance, is Handel's Judas Maccabaeus, and lasts more than three hours.

The Fringe Festival is the modern version, including comedy, modern dance, cabaret and contemporary musicals. Shows range from "Porn - The Musical" to the dance show "Love Machines", and from "Soweto Gospel Choir" to the theatre show "My Darling Clemmie", which is the theatre story of Clementine Churchill, Winston's wife.

The Fringe is - according to some stats - the biggest tourist attraction in the UK, although I don't know how they work that out. But it is huge, with hundreds of shows over the whole month of August. The traditional International Festival runs from 14th August to 5th September. Across both festivals, I doubt that anyone from anywhere won't be able to find something to enjoy.

The most spectacular individual event in August, though, is probably the Military Tattoo (which forms part of the International Festival). This music and light show is set against the backdrop of the 12th century castle in the middle of Edinburgh. Various military bands from around the world play a two-hour show every night for three weeks, regardless of the weather.

Although it obviously has a militaristic theme, it's more a tribute and memorial to those in the armed forces. Hundreds of bagpipers start and end the show, while in between, bands from other nations - as diverse as Tonga, China and Switzerland - show off their impression of military music. Each act has its own special lighting effects on the castle, and the fireworks display at the end is probably half the reason why people watch the Tattoo.

The really short videos below are off the official Edinburgh Tattoo website, and intended to give you a taste. However, I've recorded almost the whole show from the weekend, so the file sizes are really large...and I'll upload them once I find a really quick Internet Connection. !

And in case you're wondering (like I was), why it's called "Tattoo", it comes from the 17th century, when drummers would march through town, signalling to their fellow soldiers - who were enjoying their ales in the pubs - to head back to barracks. The inn-keepers would then shout out: "Doe den tap toe" (Turning off the taps).

Even if you're no fan of military themed shows...take a look at the videos, and see what you think.