CITY COUNCIL REPORTER
EDINBURGH’S world-famous Military Tattoo is to stage a celebration to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar next year.
Admiral Lord Nelson’s famous victory, which saw the Royal Navy overcome the combined might of the Spanish and French fleets, will be heralded in the form of both music and action on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade next August.
The Tattoo’s tribute will take centre stage in a packed programme dedicated to the Royal Navy, in the wake of this year’s hugely successful Royal Air Force-themed spectacular.
But it will also complement a huge programme of events being held across Britain in the run-up to the actual anniversary on October 21 next year.
Other highlights include a massive fleet review and fireworks display at Spithead in the Solent, a service of commemoration at St Paul’s Cathedral and a huge public celebration in Trafalgar Square.
Plans to mark the anniversary of Trafalagar, which was fought off Cape Trafalgar on the Spanish coast, were unveiled by Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram earlier this year.
Next year’s Tattoo will feature the Massed Bands of the Royal Marines, as well as the Royal Marines Commandos, who previously thrilled Tattoo crowds by abseiling down Edinburgh Castle’s ramparts.
Joining them this year will be the United States Marine Corps Band, which was a huge hit on its last visit in 2002, at the Tattoo staged in tribute to the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
The Norwegian King’s Guard will perform a mix of music and precision drill while the Russian State Cossack Dance Ensemble are expected to prove a star attraction.
Tattoo producer Brigadier Melville Jameson revealed first details of the 2005 event’s programme today, just weeks before tickets are due to go on sale.
He said: “We’re going to have three Royal Marines bands at our disposal as well as the Royal Marines Commandos, who were last here in 1997.
“We’re busy finalising a few elements of the programme at the moment and these will be announced before tickets go on sale next month.”
A spokeswoman for the Royal Navy said: “We would obviously welcome anything that highlights Nelson and the significant difference he made to Britain and we’re absolutely delighted that the Edinburgh Military Tattoo has chosen to pay tribute to the Battle of Trafalgar.”
Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Lesley Hinds, who is also chair of the Tattoo board, said: “The Tattoo experience is world-class and the 2005 programme, with its Trafalgar anniversary theme, will be no exception.”
Last year’s Tattoo was easily the most successful in the history of the event, with every seat being snapped up by the middle of June – more than seven weeks before the show opened.
The record sell-out of the 211,027 tickets for the 24-performance run generated around £3.7 million in box office receipts.
One of the highlights of last year’s production was a breathtaking display of precision drill by The Queen’s Colour Squadron of the Royal Air Force, whose skill with bayonet-tipped rifles thrilled the crowds packed on to the Esplanade.
The first Edinburgh Military Tattoo took place in 1950 with just eight items in the programme. It is estimated that the Tattoo injects around £72m into the Scottish economy.
Tickets for the 2005 Tattoo will be available by post, fax and over the internet from Wednesday, December 1. Telephone bookings open on December 6.
Best of Tattoo is out on video
A NEW DVD and video featuring highlights of this year’s Edinburgh Military Tattoo has hit shop shelves.
The 90-minute recording boasts previously unseen footage of performers as diverse as the Royal Air Force, the Military Band of the People’s Liberation Army of China and Estonian gymnastics team Club Piruett.
Tattoo chief executive and producer Brigadier Melville Jameson said: “As 2004 marks the Tattoo’s most successful season ever, there seems to be no doubting the continuing appeal of the event.”