Mention the words Scotland and Tattoo together and no one would blame you if your thoughts immediately turn to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo held annually in the month of August in the capital city as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, celebrating its 70th year in 2017.
However many might be surprised to learn there is another, if much younger, military tattoo well worth making a journey to Scotland for -- the Highland Military Tattoo at Fort George, Inverness. Entering only its 4th year, the Highland Military Tattoo was born in 2014 out of a project to upgrade the museum of The Queen's Own Highlanders that is housed at Fort George. The Executive Chairman and Director of the Tattoo is a former commander of the Highlanders, Major General Seymour Monro.
Entering only its 4th year, like its more famous relative, The Highland Military Tattoo also offers a dramatic backdrop in the form of historic Fort George near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. While perhaps not a worldly icon on the level of Edinburgh Castle, Fort George has a long and storied military history. The original fortress, located in Inverness and built in 1727, was destroyed by the Jacobites under Bonnie Prince Charlie so the present day fortress was constructed in 1747 on land at Ardersier, about 11 miles (18 km) northeast of Inverness, which forms a promontory jutting into the Moray Firth and controls the sea approach to Inverness. (Wikipedia) It has been in continuous operation since that time and has never been attacked.
The term "tattoo" in military parlance is an evolution of a Dutch term that dates to the 17th century. It was originally a drummer's call to signal local publicans to "turn off the taps" so that military men could return to barracks at a reasonable hour. With the later development of full military bands this drummer's call evolved into a form of ceremonial evening musical entertainment for the troops and has further evolved to the combination of bands, singers, dancers, and re-enactors that we know as military tattoos today.
Click on each image to enlarge
The Highland Military Tattoo brings together culture, tradition, and history and features a combination of bands, highland dancers (both traditional and contemporary), historical re-enactments and more. Visitors are encouraged to arrive early to stroll the ramparts, tour the Highlanders' Museum, enjoy the food village pre-show and often interact with performers and soldiers alike.
Some of the acts to be seen this year are:
RAF SE5 SE5a Queen's Colour Squadron The Royal Regiment of Scotland 1 SCOTS The Black Watch 3 SCOTS The Highlanders - 4 SCOTS 7 SCOTS @The Royal Irish Regiment RAF Lossiemouth 2622 Highland Squadron Pipe Band 1st Battalion The Highlanders Army Cadet Force Gordonstoun Forres Pipe Band City of Inverness Youth Pipe Band Claire Bryce School of Highland Dancing Elizabeth Fraser Highland Dance Group, The Band of the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Official - Gordon Highlanders 1914-1918 Clársach No. 51 Squadron RAF
Dates of the 2017 Highland Military Tattoo are 8-10 September with the 2018 show planned for 7-9 September. Information and tickets are available via the event website. (Link below)