Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Travel Guide​

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of the Scotland’s most celebrated entertainment events and features a series of performances by the British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and international military bands. Other artistic teams also perform at the annual Tattoo.

The word tattoo is derived from the early 17th century Dutch phrase ‘doe den tap toe’ which means "turn off the tap". This was a signal sounded by drummers or trumpeters to instruct innkeepers near military garrisons to stop serving beer and for soldiers to return to their barracks.

Taking place every August, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is located in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. You can have your own Scottish adventure by travelling direct to Newcastle by ferry, putting you just couple of hours’ drive from Scotland’s capital.

Header image credit: Susan McNaughton

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Getting there

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is located in the heart of Edinburgh. The closest DFDS port is in Newcastle which can be reached via ferry on the overnight Amsterdam to Newcastle route. From Newcastle, you can reach Edinburgh in around two hours via the A1 motorway.

Getting to Royal Edinburgh Tattoo

How to get to Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is held at the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle and is reached easily on foot or by bus. If you are already in the town centre then make your way along Castlehill until you reach the castle promenade. If you are arriving by car, the NCP Edinburgh Castle Terrace car park is nearby.

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Where to stay

Staying in the heart of Edinburgh gives you access to a wealth of affordable accommodation options from hotels to self-catered apartments. August is known as peak season for this city so it is wise to book accommodation well in advance. If you want to stay close to the action, look for hotels situated in the Old Town and Royal Mile which is located nearby Edinburgh castle.

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Yearly highlights to look out for at the Tattoo include Highland dancers, military pipes, drums and interesting marching formations. The first official Royal Military Tattoo took place in 1950 with only eight items on the programme, but today it features over 1200 performers from 48 countries and has an audience of 220,000. A rendition of Auld Lang Syne led by a lone piper traditionally marks the end of the Tattoo festivities.

2017’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo runs from the 4th-26th of August, delighting visitors with twenty-four performances in total. The theme for the 2017 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a ‘Splash of Tartan’ and the show opens with the glorious sounds of the Massed Bands of Her Majesty's Royal Marines.

Performance Times

Monday to Friday at 9.00pm and on Saturday at 7.30pm and 10.30pm.

There is no performance on Sunday.

Image credit: Steffen Zahn