The Edinburgh Military Tattoo: A MUST Add to Your Edinburgh Itinerary

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo: A MUST Add to Your Edinburgh Itinerary

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The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a stirring and inspiring display of the best of Scotland’s history and culture, and it is a must see if you are planning a visit to Edinburgh in the summer time.

I would even go as far as to suggest that it is well worth planning your whole trip around, if you are traveling to Scotland around the month of August!

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The Tattoo draws an audience from all over the world for its yearly three week run, each summer in August.  Over 217,000 people attend the Tattoo each summer.

This worldwide family gathers together amidst the splendor of the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade for the most spellbinding and extensive display of bagpipes and men in kilts that you are ever likely to see!

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo: The Best of Scottish Culture and History

The word “Tattoo” used in reference to a gathering of military pipes comes from the phrase “doe den tap toe” (basically Dutch for “last call” at the bar).

The British adopted it and regiments of pipes and drums would stroll through cities to signal to tavern owners that it was time for last call, so that the military men would retire to bed at a decent time.

In addition to proudly featuring the heart and soul of Scottish culture in grand fashion, the Tattoo features military regiments from other countries all over the world.

The precision marching is breathtaking, especially when combined with the massed pipes and drums (think of the droning wail of hundreds of bagpipes…it awakens something deep in my heart just to think of it!).

This soul stirring show climaxes with a lone piper playing an ancient Scottish lament from the wall of Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle

This is followed by the entire audience singing Auld Lang Syne accompanied by a heap of bagpipers (it doesn’t matter if you know the words or not, and once you have sung this well loved Scottish anthem with thousands of Scots and others from all over the world, you will understand why tickets for this event sell out months ahead of time!)

Edinburgh Military Tattoo Details:

Varies by year, throughout the month of August
Prices: Approximately 24-60 pounds for standard seating (80-220 pounds for premier seating packages)

  • Didn’t buy tickets ahead of time but you find yourself unexpectedly in Edinburgh during the Tattoo’s yearly August run?  Show sold out?  Don’t panic!  It is sometimes possible to purchase last minute tickets on the day of he show.  Check in first thing upon opening on the day of the show at the The Tattoo Ticket Sales Office, (33-34 Market Street, Edinburgh).  Their hours are from 10:00am-4:30pm (might be good to get there a smidge ahead of time, in case there is a queue).  Available tickets are sold on the day of the show (limited to two per person).

A tip for seating:

If good photos are a priority for you, splurge for the seats at the end of the esplanade (not down the sides).  These seats will give you the castle as a backdrop for you photos (the castle is lit up in different colors during different parts of the show, making for some awesome photo opps!)

If you are planning a trip to Scotland, please check out these other helpful pieces:


Shanna Schultz

We are Shanna and Aaron + kiddos. We are a travel addicted family of four who love to escape at every possible opportunity. When we travel, we love to focus on creating meaningful travel experiences that help us all learn about the world together and bring us closer as a family. Shanna also writes about travel in the Midwestern part of the United States at her blog A Midwest Travel Companion

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. flip

    Seems like a nice show! Will definitely check this out when I get the chance to go to Scotland.

    1. Shanna

      I love Scotland. It is one of my very favorite countries. I really hope you get there someday! August is a great time to visit because not only can you see the Tattoo, but you can go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, an amazing gathering of performers with hundreds of theater performances and street performances all over Edinburgh.

  2. ken Miller

    I love Scotland because it is my birth place

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