The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has revealed the dynamic line-up of performers which are set to grace Edinburgh Castle’s iconic Esplanade from this Friday (3 August) for this year’s ‘The Sky’s the Limit’ showcase.
From Australia and Oman to Malawi and the Shetland Isles, producers have explored all points of the compass to select a world-class programme of home-grown and overseas talent to bring this year’s spectacle to life between 3-25 August. The 8,800 nightly audiences can expect to be captivated by a colourful cultural showcase and thrilling display of music, dance, military performance and technology, all against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.
This year’s theme, The Sky’s the Limit, has been chosen in celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and marries with Scotland’s Year of Young People. Each performance, coupled with stunning projections and, in a first for the show, laser technology, will take the audience on the incredible journey following man’s obsession with flight, including space travel.
International performers this year include, for the first time, the Royal Cavalry of the Sultanate of Oman’s Pipers on horseback and its all-female marching Band who will take audiences to the sweeping expanses of the desert and encourage everyone to look up to the Arabian Sky which will be visualised by extraordinary projections on the Castle walls. The Central Band of the Czech Armed Forces and Ondras Military Art Ensemble, a 113-strong group, will also make their Tattoo debut as they remember the 100th anniversary of the Czechoslovak Independence (1918) through traditional music and dance.
Energy levels will be raised by The Banda Monumental de Mexico who will bring a carnival atmosphere through Mariachi music and dance, including a rendition of Luis Fonsi’s now legendary Despacito.
Returnees include Tattoo favourites the Highland Dancers from Scotland and beyond, the Top Secret Drum Corps and the Massed Pipes and Drums – a 250 strong contingent of the UK’s finest military musicians – who will enthral audiences with their colossal and thrilling musical performances renowned across the globe.
First-time performers The Edinburgh Girls’ High School from Malawi will join girls from the Mary Erskine School choir to form a troupe of 40 young people that will perform in harmony during the main show before playing an integral part of the event’s finale, a rendition of Amazing Grace.
The Malawi school, known as the Edinburgh Girls’ High School because of the close link with the Mary Erskine School, is now in its fifth year with a total roll of 160 girls in the region of Engcongolweni, near Mzuzu.
Brigadier David Allfrey, Chief Executive and Producer of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo said: “The time has finally come to reveal a magical line-up of talent set to keep the audience on the edge of their seats from start to finish. It’s an enthralling 90-minute spectacle that’s set to be one of our best shows yet with an army of young performers to the fore.
“One of the remarkable characteristics of the youthful is the optimism and their ability to not be limited by boundaries – barriers between people, communities or opportunities. This is a celebration of that mindset and we hope for the show to be an inspiration to both young and old, to keep this childlike spirit alive in all aspects of our lives from our ambitions to our interactions with others.
“Audiences can expect to be spellbound by the sights, sounds and electric atmosphere created by our 2018 cast with incredible light and laser technology thrown in for good measure. It is all about unleashing human potential, not just in the Show but in life generally.
“Now that the cast has descended on Scotland’s capital from around the globe, we’re putting the final touches to the show in preparation of Friday’s opening performance. We are so excited to bring such a spectacular variety of performers to Edinburgh for a month of magic and to join together to celebrate the Year of Young People and the centenary of the RAF.”
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), added: “In our 100th anniversary year, I’m really delighted that the Royal Air Force has the lead for this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo – a very special event in a very special year. Scotland has always been a vital part of that RAF story. From one hundred years ago at Montrose Station, the first operational military airfield, to today at RAF Lossiemouth on the Moray coast, one of the RAF’s principal bases, protecting UK and NATO airspace. I am also proud to say that Scotland was the start of my own personal story and RAF career.
“Throughout RAF100 and Scotland’s Year of Young People, the greatest legacy we can build is to inspire and unlock the potential of new generations, so that together, we can help shape our next century. The theme for this year’s Tattoo – “The Sky’s The Limit’ – could not, therefore, be more appropriate.”
Key highlights from the 2018 showcase include:
- An elaborate fanfare of musicians will open the show with sounds of the soaring Spitfire, gearing up for take-off with a tune called Start your Engines before the first sight of the Massed Pipes and Drums encompassing performers from across the globe, age 12 to 70
- A traditional hunter-gatherers’ welcome chant from The Edinburgh Girls’ High School in Malawi, who will open the show and celebrate the world’s most productive insect in their rendition of We’ve Found the Honey
- First-time Tattoo performers, The Central Band of the Czech Armed Forces and Ondras Military Art Ensemble, a 113-strong group, will reflect on the natural beauty of Earth, its landscapes, villages, towns and diverse people through energetic music and dance with dancers in traditional skirts. The Band will also mark the 100th anniversary of the Czechoslovak Independence (1918)
- The stunning sounds of the 50 Shetland Fiddlers ‘Hjaltibonhoga’ will celebrate the flight of the seabirds, wheeling and diving around Scotland’s islands, with a new piece commissioned for 2018 show called The Order of the Storm Birds. The performance will be complemented with stunning projections of seascape and the bird kingdom’s finest specimens
- The Banda Monumental de Mexico – over 100 performers from Jaguares Marching Band, Compañía de Danza Tenochtitlan and Mariachi Juvenil Oro de México, celebrating the flight of the Eagle and Mexico’s rich Aztec history and heritage. Incredible designs will be projected in amazing technicolour on the Edinburgh Castle backdrop as the band play out in front before culminating in a performance of Despacito, joined by the RAF brass, trumpets and horns
- The Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes and Drums, Boston’s premier Fife and Drum corps will take audiences back to the 18th Century and the moment when man discovered the wonder of travel by hot air balloon
- 50 exceptional Highland Dancers from the Tattoo Dance Company, drawn from talent across the world, will perform to a specially arranged version of the famoustune penned by the late Piper, Gordon Duncan ‘Zeto the Bubbleman’, dressed in stunning red, white and blue to celebrate the RAF’s centenary year
- The Combined Bands of the Royal Cavalry of the Sultanate of Oman, a collection of colourful mounted Pipes and Drums together with the all-female military marching band will encourage the audience to look upwards to the majestic Arabian nights’ sky
- Hailing from Basel in Switzerland, The Top Secret Drum Corps – the world’s most illustrious and dynamic percussionists – will reflect on space, time and the speed of light
- The Royal Ypriana Wind Band Buglers will perform the Last Post, to mark the end of the centenary of the end of the Great War and allow time for reflection amongst the 8,800 nightly guests
- The United States Air Force Honour Guard Drill Team will defy gravity with remarkable performances of precision and skill from one of America’s top military display teams
- Fan-favourites – The Massed Military Bands and Massed Pipes and Drums – will create a poignant finale moment to celebrate aspiration and Scotland’s Year of Young People with the Tattoo Dance Company and young international and UK performers to the fore before an all-cast traditional ceilidh of Strip the Willow.
More than 1,200 cast and crew are involved in the organisation of the Tattoo which plays out to an audience of 8,800 each evening and to an estimated global audience of over 100M through programmed televised broadcasts.
This will be the first Edinburgh show since organisers revealed their intent to take the Tattoo across the globe on an ambitious expansion programme which will see it visit Australia, Canada and China and double its turn-over to £20million by 2025.