The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Marches Into Melbourne In 2016

13 May 2015

Melbourne is to host The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo for the first time, with 1,200 performers coming to Victoria's capital city in February 2016 for a spectacle rarely seen outside Scotland.

The announcement today at the venue for the event, Etihad Stadium at the Docklands, was delivered with a fanfare of bagpipes and drums from Melbourne’s Rats of Tobruk.

The Rats of Tobruk Memorial Pipes and Drums band performed Scotland the Brave while marching past the AFL goal posts, brightening a dreary cold day with a splash of bright red tartan.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Melbourne will be the Rats of Tobruk’s eighth performance in the world-famous show, but the first on their home ground.


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 The Rats of Tobruk Memorial Pipes and Drums at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland (image: Rats of Tobruk)

When the Rats return to Etihad Stadium next February, the goal posts will be long gone and a scale replica of Edinburgh Castle will be erected in their place as part of the spectacular setting for marching musicians and other performers from around the world.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is performed annually in Edinburgh before an outdoor audience of 220,000, and the show is so popular tickets have sold out for the past 16 years.

Another 100 million viewers around the world see the unique event on television – including Australians who traditionally watch a recording of the show on the ABC on New Year’s Eve.

The event has left Scotland only a few times, although many of the world’s great cities have bid to host it. In 2005 and 2010, five sold-out performances were held in Australia at Sydney Football Stadium, and in 2000 the Tattoo travelled to Wellington, New Zealand.

It will return to Wellington in 2016, a week after three shows in Melbourne from February 12 to 13.

Before the show’s producer and chief executive, Brigadier David Allfrey, and his team leave the United Kingdom for Australia, they will conduct the 66th Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in August at its traditional site.

 Performers at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland (image: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo)

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Since 1950, the event has been held in the esplanade in front of ancient Edinburgh Castle, a World Heritage Site in the Scottish city of Edinburgh.

Brigadier Allfrey said despite its outdoor fortress setting, there has never been a show cancelled due to inclement Scottish weather.

Melbourne audiences can be reassured their live performances will be viewed from one of the world’s most modern facilities, a world-class stadium with a closed roof, he said.

“We are bringing one of the best shows on earth to this extraordinary city and stadium,” said Brigadier Allfrey, resplendently dressed for the launch in tartan trousers and a bow tie, and with his military service medals pinned to his jacket.

He said the Tattoo in Melbourne would be an authentic reproduction and experience of the Edinburgh Tattoo.

“We are looking to deliver a show that will entertain, but also inspire Australian audiences.”

 Etihad Stadium will be transformed for The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in February next year (image: Wikipedia)

Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the “iconic” Tattoo will be held in Melbourne amid a two month spree of world class events.

It arrives straight after the Australian Open tennis Grand Slam, and is followed by the Australian Grand Prix and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

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The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Melbourne 2016

February 12 at 7pm, February 13 at 1pm and also at 7pm.

Etihad Stadium, Docklands, Melbourne
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Tickets go on sale on May 25, 2015 and travel packages are available through Flight Centre stores around Australia and online at www.flightcentre.com.au/tattoo

Loretta Hall

Loretta Hall is an experienced freelance journalist based in Melbourne. An energetic and curious traveller, she loves to learn from the locals. Weaving their stories into a travel tale brings a locale to life. Loretta also specialises in theatre, the arts and profile writing. She is a former snowsports columnist for a major Australian newspaper and enjoys skiing the world’s snowy peaks.