Pipes & drums

I’ve become attuned to the sound of bagpipes. For the past week I’ve heard them swirling daily, first in rehearsal and then in performance at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which in its 60th year is being re-enacted about as far from Scotland as you can get. The Sydney Football Stadium, near where I live, has been transformed into a $1 million patch of the old country each evening, complete with rain squalls during the event just to add an authentic atmosphere. Invited to opening night, I was completely amazed by the spectacle, stirred by the sight and sound of the massed pipe band and overawed at the number of people who turned up to watch and enjoy – some 35,000 on the night I’m told, many from interstate. The show runs four nights.

It’s the second time the Tattoo has been to Sydney. The last time was in 2005, when it also bucketed down on those bearskins and kilts yet was watched by 150,000 people. Australia is the only country other than Scotland where this spectacular has been performed, a significance not lost on those watching, many of who probably attended five years ago. With a cast of about 1500, it’s a constantly entertaining and exceptionally colourful spectacle, run with expected military precision. Guest bands from as far afield as Norway, Switzerland, China and Trinidad & Tobago make it a truly international occasion. I’m going to miss the sound of the massed pipes and drums telling me it’s near bedtime …

Travel tip: The Diamond Jubilee Tattoo in Edinburgh takes place from 6-28 August.

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