Military Tattoo & Fringe Festival

The Royal Military Tattoo

So, every year in August Scotland has a HUGE celebration known as the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.  It is basically a festival that now stretches just about the entire month of August and it brings together the worlds best talents of musicians and performers from over 46 countries!!  One of the performing acts of course is the Royal Edinburgh Military.  They play the bagpipes and march in unison and at the very end of the show there is a lone bagpiper who stands at the top of the castle wall.  His performance is followed by the shooting of a cannon and then fireworks.  Guests from all over the world come to see this celebration, which has been going on since 1950 or so, and plan at least a year in advance in order to get tickets for the event at all!!

Needless to say, despite my description above of what the Royal Military Tattoo is, I never actually was able to see the performance while there, lol!!  Alas, the event has been described to me by K&E, and I was able to read a little bit of the history while standing in line waiting (and hoping) that some tickets became available on “the day of” performances.  In addition, during one week of the celebration the event was filmed and it is broadcast on TV worldwide so that all can enjoy it.  I did catch a snippet of the show when I Was in Glasgow weeks later, but didn’t really see the whole thing.

To be honest, and to my embarrassment, I kinda had a teeny little panic meltdown about seeing the show.  Instead of sticking to my usual attitude of “if it’s meant to be it will happen”, after going early and standing in line to get tickets (sometimes people would simply turn their tickets back in for resale due to unforeseen reasons that no longer permitted them to attend) and failing to get tickets yet again, I had a freak out . But thanks to the sound and calming wisdom of E, I was talked off the ledge and what began then was what I’d like to consider the theme of traveling Scotland from then on… “I must leave something to come back for”.  And trust me when I say, there is a TON of stuff to go back to Scotland for (and I’m not just saying that because of the numerous yummy men with their sexy accents living there;)) !!  A month was simply not enough , but rather is was barely enough to just scratch the surface!!

Just a little bit of interesting history on the word “Tattoo”… Basically, the origins of the word Tattoo go back to the 17th century when British troops were fighting in the Low Countries.  At the end of the day the duty officer would go around making sure each post was manned before the sounding of the Last Post.  A few drummers would accompany him for this task and if the soldiers were missing from their post, the ritual beating of the drum would ensue basically signaling to the soldiers (who were in town at the local pubs) that it was time to return to their posts or quarters.  The Dutch innkeepers would then turn off the liquor taps and say “Time’s up!” or in their language: DOE TEN TAP-TOE, basically meaning no more booze for you!  The drummers would continue to drum until all the soldiers made their way back to their posts for the sounding of the Last Post.  Eventually Tap-Toe (last call!) evolved into the word Tattoo!

The Fringe Festival

The Fringe Festival… well honestly I’m not sure of the orgins of this festival, but what I do know is it coincides with the Tattoo for about the entire month of August as well!  So really, tourists are able to experience two separate festivals in only one month if visiting in August!!

The Fringe Festival is basically a huge collection of artists, musicians, actors, performers, magicians, singers, dancers, etc, etc from all over the world who come and perform all along the Royal Mile for several of the “old town” blocks!!  The street is filled from morning till night with tons of performers just every which way you look!  It’s quite an amazing experience and honestly could keep one busy all day every day of the festival just checking out each of the performances!  People filled the streets handing out cards announcing or rather advertising various shows and where the venue was to take place.  Some of the shows were free (aka the ones I attended- but remember “free” is a term for “expected to tip performer at the end!!”) and others were anything from 5-12 pounds a piece.

I ended up attending one solo play about how making good decisions was actually bad for you… sounded interesting but sadly I found it rather dull.  The other venue I attended was for the Man of Steal… This was quite a great performance!!  Very informative to boot!  Basically it’s put on by a professional pick-pocket who works for the police and does these shows to educate the public on how to protect themselves from thieves.  I can’t say much more about it than that as we were all sworn to secrecy about the details of the show, so I will stick by that and leave the description at that:)

By far, however the BEST performance I saw on the streets of the Royal Mile during the Fringe was Joel Grainger… I was just coming out of a building after having bought a ticket for a tour of the Real Mary King’s Close and I had about a half hour to kill.  I walked on the street and was lured by the sound of a voilin.  I love voilin music to begin with, so I walked toward the sound and on a stage erected on the side of the street was Joel Grainger.  He was the only musician present, but due to his technique of “live-looping” he was able to play every note of a song LIVE!  He played “somebody that I used to know” by Gotye and Pachebel’s Canon in D in all their glory!!  I’m not going to be able to describe his technique of live-looping to do him justice, so you are just going to have to check him out for yourself… I know he’s on YouTube, and though I don’t Facebook, I know he is.  If any of you are fans of the violin, you MUST check him out!!  Google “Joel Grainer Fringe” and you will see one of his performances there from this past festival:)

Though I really wasn’t expecting the Fringe to be going on in addition to the Tattoo, it was quite a welcome surprise!  I could spend days on end just going up and down the Mile watching for new acts or collecting thousands of info cards on the various performers.  Quite impressive!!  Not to mention the tons of kiosks that were set up everywhere in town featuring everything from handmade jewelery to paintings to cashmere items, etc, etc!  I highly recommend for all those planning to go to Edinburgh, though it will be a more expensive time of year, make your trip in August!!!  And for goodness sake- learn from me and get your Tattoo tickets in advance!  Or don’t and just figure it’s something to come back for:)

Sadly, my pictures for this section really lack in what they should have been… I was just too engrossed in watching my surroundings and being present for them to take pictures I guess…Sorry!!

On to “Local” Tours

Back to United Kingdom

 

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