VOICES: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo returns

800 performers. A billion goosebumps. And, for me, a few tears of joy.

Being moved to tears became an area of expertise when I hit my mid-20s. As such, it was unsurprising that I found myself swallowing hard as the skirl of the Lone Piper, standing proudly atop Edinburgh Castle for the grand finale of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, reverberated across the dark skies.

However, as I looked down upon the esplanade and onto the 8,800-strong audience being battered by a distinctly autumnal breeze, I could see I wasn’t the only one to have been swept up in the moment. Enthralled by the carnival of colour and sound that they had witnessed during the 90-minute show, each and every head was arching skyward to the piper.

In its 72-year history, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has captured the hearts of millions from across the globe. Each year, performers entertain a live audience of 220,000 on the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade, with a further global TV audience of over 100 million. This year’s show, Voices, draws inspiration from people who, despite physical separation during the pandemic, continued to connect through common ‘languages’ like song, music, and dance.

Mexico brought a carnival atmosphere with their Día de los Muertos sequence. [Rosie Morton]


It was a seamless blend of the traditional and the innovative. Massed pipes and drums, Highland dancing and Celtic crowd-pleasing numbers from Skippinish were combined with renditions of Tom Jones’ Delilah, The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army, and Robbie Williams’ Let Me Entertain You.

The revamped event was led by the Tattoo’s first Creative Director, Michael Braithwaite, who said: ‘Voices is a celebration of the human power of connection. With music, song, dance, images, sound, and light these voices have reached out across the globe, despite our inability to travel.’

He continued: ‘From the breath-taking power of the massed pipes and drums and our military performers, the colour and spectacle of our cultural groups, to the excitement and energy of our singers and dancers, Voices is both the Tattoo you know and love, and a bold new step into the future.’

The Massed Drums & Pipes taking centre stage. [Rosie Morton]


Over 800 performers from all over the world, including the United States, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, Canada and the UK, took to the esplanade, and not a foot, drumstick or kilt pleat was out of place.

The Top Secret Drum Corps, a hot favourite from Switzerland who first performed at the Tattoo in 2003, returned to showcase their precision drumming; the Banda Monumental de México, taking advantage of the new special effects, transformed the iconic fortress into a carnival with their Día de los Muertos sequence; while Electro Pipes’ performance of Shake That Bagpipe brought traditional Scottish music hurtling into the 21st century, complete with furiously energetic dancing, lasers and pyrotechnics.

The Top Secret Drum Corps from Switzerland impressed with their precision drumming.

Buster Howes, Chief Executive of the Tattoo, said: ‘Tonight we intend to make up for lost time, with our comeback show, Voices. I took responsibility for The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2020, however this year is my first show as Chief Executive having been on the charity’s board since 2015.

‘This year’s show carefully integrates tradition and innovation, mass and individuality, exhilaration and pathos, surprise and humour, precision, and exuberance. It will, we hope, call forth a wide range of emotions and like all powerful forms of art and performance cause you all – of whatever age, origin, or persuasion – to reflect, and to feel both inspired and energised.’

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2022 returns with a bang. [Rosie Morton]


Auld Reekie has been aching to welcome back the Tattoo after a three-year Covid-induced hiatus. Judging from the broad smiles and deep-bellied, unabashed laughter of the crowds as they rolled down the Royal Mile after the show, Voices was roaring success.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo runs until 27 August 2022.
Remaining tickets can be purchased HERE or on the phone on 0131 225 1188.