Thursday's Child: The Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo

Thursday, November 3, 2011
When we travel, we come home with a camera (and eventually an album) full of gorgeous photos that remind us of what we’ve seen.  But sometimes our most vivid memories are those that we don’t see, but that we hear.  This month I’ll be sharing some of our musical memories from our trips.

One of the first overseas trips we took with the girls was to Scotland.  They were ten and seven at the time, and we liked the idea of visiting an English-speaking country.  With activities that ranged from seal-watching to visiting a scotch distillery, there really was something for everyone.

But we’d all agree that one of the highlights of the trip was our last night in Scotland, when we were fortunate to hold tickets to the Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo.  The Tattoo is a musical celebration held in the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle for three weeks every summer. 

According to the Tattoo website, the word "tattoo" comes from the Dutch phrase "Doe den tap doe", or "turn off the taps".  When the British army was fighting in the Netherlands in the 17th century, drummers would signal that it was closing time for the pubs by marching through town drumming. This developed into a skill display, which then turned into a mass event featuring performers of all kinds, for entertainment purposes.


We joined other festival-goers in the late afternoon in a huge crowd outside the castle, waiting to get in.  We took our seats with great anticipation and, when the show began, we were treated to a wonderful display.  Military regiments from around the world and, of course, bagpipers filled the stadium with gorgeous music.  As the evening went on and the sky darkened, the sturdy castle in the back was illuminated by floodlights.

Toward the end of the show, all of the performers (numbering about a thousand) returned to the esplanade for a massed performance.  Then the crowd hushed, and everyone’s eyes were drawn to the Lone Piper, spotlighted atop the castle, playing a haunting number.

And just when we thought the evening couldn’t be topped, it concluded with a group singing of Auld Lang Syne.  Not from the performers on the field, but from the nearly 8000 attendees in the stadium.  We all held hands with our neighbours as we sang in unison.

And as we marched out of the stadium to the strains of Scotland the Brave, we knew we’d been part of a very special evening.

Photo used courtesy of Best of Edinburgh

31 comments:

Kayte said...

Not only sound, but looks...this all looks wonderfully exciting to me!

Belinda said...

Had no idea that was the origin of the word! What fun!

Valerie said...

What a lovely moment...Auld Lang Syne is such a beautifully sad song. And who knew the real meaning of the word "Tattoo"? (I like this meaning much better than the modern version.) :D

Marina said...

I was in Edinburgh two years ago.. I looove it.. I would love to see something like this. Well, I guess I have to go again!

Claudia said...

This makes me want to reserve tickets and go! How magnificent! I got a kick out of the meaning of "tatoo" and it's early meanings.

yummychunklet said...

Sounds wonderful!

LDH said...

Oh, so moving! What an experience!

Mary said...

What an awesome experience, Beth. I love that you have been able to travel so much with your family. I enjoy hearing about it.

allieksmith said...

Wow! That sounds like a really exciting experience! It must be so much fun to travel and see the world-you take such lovely photos and always have unique stories that make me smile!

Barbara said...

I didn't know anything about that, Beth. How exciting to be a part of that! I would have loved to see it.

lapetitepancake said...

I would probably shed a tear or two with the Auld Lang Syne hand-holding business. What an experience!

Emily Malloy said...

Sigh. There is nothing like Edinburgh. Your beautiful photos have taken me back! Thank you :)

Bonnie said...

Beth, I had cold chills reading about the lone piper atop the castle. I can only imagine the beauty. Bonnie

laurie said...

What a wonderful time you had!

Julie said...

Another beautiful journey! Thanks for sharing with us.

Gloria said...

Sounds wonderful Beth!! gloria

Miriam said...

I love that story, such a great memory!!

Lizzy said...

What a great experience, Beth! My parents lived in Scotland for a year, and I have fond memories of visiting them :)

PS...I added the chocolate chips to the caramel streusel bars (for the chocoholic family members), but I think I might have liked them even better without!

Christina Lee said...

Wow--I bet it was "haunting"!!!

Raina said...

Wow! That sounds like it must have been so wonderful to see and hear. It must have been very moving. Amazing experiences you have given your girls:)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Oh, I thought it meant you got to watch the military get tattoos. The real version sounds so much better. :D

Jess said...

Wow, Beth. I could feel the energy of the moment in this post. Wish I could have been there :)

Elaine said...

It sounds like a truly special, wonderful evening. Thank you for sharing it with us.

grace said...

what an impressive and majestic sight to behold! some things just stick with you. :)

julie said...

What an amazing experience you had there. You have given your children such a gift with all this overseas travel. I hope that when my kids are a bit older, we can share that same gift with them.

tenaciouslyyours.com said...

I'm pretty sure that music is one of the ways I communicate, so I'm very excited for this series! I can only imagine what it was like to hear and experience such a showing. And I'm sure there was a lot of pride happening there as well - what a fun annual tradition for those people!

p.s. I think the idea of choosing an all-English speaking country with younger kids sounds like an extremely manageable idea if you're trying to maximize the experience that every family member gets to have.

Angie's Recipes said...

A really special evening...I wish I were there too.

Medeia Sharif said...

Special evening, indeed. Thanks for sharing it. :)

shaz said...

Wow! How fantastic. My dad is a big fan of this Tatoo, though we've never seen it "live". For some reason, they'd televise it around Christmas in Malaysia, and he'd make us all sit through it :)

sally said...

I missed the Tatoo when I was in Edinburgh. It looks like a great event though!

comfortablydomestic.com said...

How cool is it that you were part of such a moving event? Very cool. I would most definitely been tearing up at the emotion of the experience of Tatoo. Edinburgh is definitely on our list of places to visit.

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