To conclude my tour of Edinburgh Castle it seems appropriate somehow to finish with the magnificent Military Tattoo.
As its name suggests, the event is based around the Scottish armed forces, but don’t let that put you off because it’s more to do with kilts and bagpipes than warfare. That said, there is also a solemn side to the proceedings, especially towards the end when recognition of those who have lost their lives in combat are remembered.
For the most part though, it’s an extravaganza of music and dancing, and not just from Scotland either. In fact, it involves more international participants than you might have imagined.
The first Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle took place in 1950 and has grown from strength to strength ever since. The spectacle has become extremely popular and consequently in order to get a good seat, or even any seat, it’s best to book well in advance. This also applies to hotels as well at this time of the year, as it coincides with the Edinburgh Festival.
The night we were here the performance started off with an unexpected thunderous fly-past from behind by RAF jetfighters, which was followed by a not so unexpected torrential downpour.
Everyone, from the capacity crowd to all those taking part got totally drenched, but true to the British spirit, everyone just carried on – the singers carried on singing, the dancers just carried on dancing, and the bands kept on playing – and at no time was anyone’s spirit dampened.
Throughout the show I became mesmerised by the skills of so many people, especially the Swiss drummers, but there are so many things to enjoy it’s probably a bit unfair to single any particular group out.
As the evening draws to a close, the excitement gradually slows down until the Massed Pipes and Drums come together for a rendition of Auld Lang Syne, and as if that isn’t symbolic enough, a spotlight then picks out a Lone Piper on one of the castle ramparts who plays The Last Post to an audience that could hear a pin drop.
A fitting finale to a wonderful experience – except that it’s not quite the end, because the silence is broken by a firework display that can be seen and heard all over Edinburgh.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of those events that will stay with you forever. Brilliant!