As the curtain closes on another successful Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo,
Rosie Morton
reflects on this year’s Show.

THE skirl of the Lone Piper reverberated around the Esplanade, taking 2023’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo to a poignant close. 

The haunting drone echoed through the 8,800-strong audience and beyond. All eyes gazed up at the piper’s silhouette, lit up against Edinburgh Castle. In moments like this, you can’t help but feel choked with pride.

I took a moment to look down on the jam-packed stands. Over the course of this year’s Show, Stories, over 200,000 people have been taken on an emotive journey, with a further 100 million watching on their TV screens at home.

The Swiss Armed Forces Central Band.

Through its 73-year history, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has captured the hearts of millions. It was, in the words of the Tattoo’s Chief Executive, Buster Howes ‘an event born out of the suffering and sacrifice of the Second World War, to stimulate happiness, and a spirit of hope and connection, from our common humanity and faith in a brighter future.’ That fundamental purpose remains, but of course today’s show is a balance of tradition and modern innovation.

Stories drew inspiration from the sagas, myths and legends that people across the globe have shared with one another. It was a chance for performers to tell those tales that mean the most to them. It was, in essence, a celebration of our shared humanity and the things that unite us. With only a handful of tickets unsold across the run, this year’s Show has proven to be one of the Tattoo’s most successful to date.

800 performers from 50 countries took to the Esplanade this year, including acts from Australia, Norway, Switzerland, the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, the UK and Ireland. As ever, the military played a prominent role, with the Royal Air Force as the lead Service.

The lead Service at this year’s Show was the Royal Air Force.




Proceedings began with the rousing sound of the Massed Pipes and Drums. An incredible 240 pipers (with each one generating no less than 80 decibels) and drummers were on the parade. Not a kilt pleat, foot or drumstick was out of place. This was closely followed by the United States Air Force Band who set the toes tapping with a freestyle musical performance from the Great American Songbook.

240 pipers and drummers took to the Esplanade.

Later the audience enjoyed the cacophony of colour and sound that came from the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra. Performing traditional art forms and contemporary Caribbean music, they brought an unrivalled burst of excitement to the Esplanade with their limbo and fire dance.

Judging from the crowd’s reaction, though, the favourite may well have been the Electro Pipes who impressed with their high-energy, neon-lit performance by bringing together traditional bagpipe melodies with contemporary electronic beats.

Electro Pipes wowed the audience with their high-energy performance.

As the programme says: ‘All the best stories start with a castle.’ As I looked round at the beaming faces of tourists and residents as they spilled onto the Royal Mile at the end of the show, I couldn’t help but agree.

Jason Barrett, Chief Operating Officer of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, said: ‘The success of this year’s Tattoo is measured in many ways but nowhere more so than in the faces and genuine emotion expressed by those who attended. Stories was the Tattoo’s latest atmospheric spectacular enjoyed by almost a quarter of a million people, illuminating on Edinburgh Castle and filling the capital city’s August nights with the skirl of the massed pipes and drums. We couldn’t be prouder of the team for yet another great performance.

‘But as one chapter closes, another begins, and the team has already embarked on planning next year’s Show, Journeys. Tickets for the 2024 Show, Journeys are on sale from today [28 August 2023], and we are delighted to offer the first 25,000 tickets secured at 2023 prices to ensure as many people as possible get to experience watching the Tattoo live. Book now – you won’t want to miss it.’

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2024, Journeys, will run from 2-24 August. The lead service, the Royal Navy will take the audience on a journey through time, celebrating the tides of change.

Tickets can be purchased HERE

The Massed Pipes & Drums beneath Edinburgh Castle.