All You Need to Know About… The Edinburgh Tattoo

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Edinburgh TattooHeld every year in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle, the Edinburgh Tattoo attracts some 222,000 spectaculars over its three week run, 30% of which are from overseas.

So, what’s all the song and dance about? Here’s all you need to know about this popular military spectacular.

What is it?
The Edinburgh Tattoo has been going since 1950 and is currently TripAdvisor’s #1 attraction in Edinburgh. The performance features nearly 1,000 performers and is a 90-minute long military spectacular involving pipes, drums, dancing, visual lights, fireworks and cannon fire. The show famously culminates in a lone piper playing from the castle ramparts, followed by a heart-felt mass chorus of Auld Lang Syne. The night finishes with fireworks (there’s an extended display on Saturdays at 10:30pm, subject to the weather) and a military flypast.

Where should I sit?

The most cost effective tickets are situated in Blocks 1 and 17, closest to the castle, but you can of course upgrade. The further you are to the centre of the ‘horseshoe’, the more you can expect to pay. Our upgraded tickets range from an extra £3 per person (Blocks 2 & 15) to £15.50 (Blocks 3, 4, 13 & 14) and £20 per person (Blocks 5 & 12). Wheelchair seating is located at the front of blocks 1-5 and 12-17.

What about the weather?
Unlike Centre Court at Wimbledon, there’s no roof to protect you from the elements. The Tattoo is entirely open-air and goes ahead whatever the weather.  A performance has never been cancelled yet, so expect to dress warmly. As one TripAdvisor traveller says “A bit chilly, but then it is Scotland”. Umbrellas aren’t allowed for obvious obstruction reasons, so take your mac in the event of the odd spot of ‘fairy dust’ (rain).

Is it disabled friendly?
Of course. Wheelchair spaces are situated at the front of Blocks 1-5 and 12-17 and there are disabled toilet facilities on the Esplanade. Due to the Castle’s location at the top of a hill, coaches typically drop off at Grassmarket at the bottom of Granny Green’s Steps. Those who can’t make the steps can easily catch a taxi up to the castle.edinburgh-tattoo-seat-plan-300x273

Are children allowed?
There are no age limits on the Tattoo so children can attend, but due to loud bangs and firing cannons parents are advised to use their discretion when it comes to young children and babies.

Merchandise?
Check. A pop-up kiosk can be found under the Grandstand, as well as a permanent shop on Market Street which is open all year round (Monday-Friday). The official website is also well-stocked with everything from DVDs and CDs to t-shirts and other tartan-clad products.

How can I get there?
Coach tours to the 2015 Edinburgh Tattoo are already on sale and are a great way of experiencing the Tattoo hassle-free. Packages start from as little as £209 for 3 days going up to £459 for a 4-day air break. Trips include coach travel, accommodation, ticket to the Tattoo and excursions incorporating popular places and attractions, like Royal Yacht Britannia, Gretna Green and even York . Our most popular break, Lochs & Steams, includes a trip across Loch Katrine on board SS ‘Sir Walter Scott’ and a journey on the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway. If you’re not keen on travelling by coach, there is also an air break incorporating Loch Lomond which departs from major regional airports. 2015 marks the 66th anniversary of the Tattoo.

What is there to do?
Unlike some other events like the British Grand Prix, there is nothing else to do at the Tattoo except, well, watch the Tattoo.

Bit of Trivia
The Tattoo involves some 35 miles of cabling – that’s the same as the distance between Edinburgh to Glasgow!

For more tips and advice on what to expect and what to wear, and to secure your place at next year’s event, visit our Edinburgh Tattoo coach breaks page.