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Edinburgh Royal Tattoo 2022

We are considering this bucket list trip - if all goes well!
For those that have been, kindly share tips where to stay, side trips, clothing etc.
I have read a car is not necessary in Edinburgh--not that I/we would even attempt to drive there- walking is the favorite way to go.
I'am not sure where to begin - other than securing performance tickets first and go from there.
Are the seats reserved and best location to take it all in!!
Thank you in advance,

Posted by
26480 posts

Scotland is gorgeous. Get yourself a good guidebook and make the trip as long as you can. Lodging in Edinburgh is very expensive in August, so research that and book something with a good cancelation policy as soon as you can. The city has multiple days' worth of sightseeing, but it will be utterly mobbed. I think the Tattoo totally overlaps the Edinburgh Festival, which is a massive event.

The western side of the country, including the islands, tends to be a bit warmer and wetter than Edinburgh. I took a couple of pairs of long johns on my summer trip, and I used them more than once--as much to keep my legs relatively dry (I had nylon slacks) as to stay warm; that wasn't necessary in Edinburgh, but it was in Oban and on Sky. For a nighttime performance, I'd want to have multiple layers available to me, depending on the weather forecast.

Posted by
2316 posts

It’s been a number of years since we have done this but here is what I remember. The Fringe Festival will be going on and the Royal Mile will be very crowded with tourists and performers. Buy your tattoo tickets as soon as they go online as they sell out fast. Seats are reserved. We purchased seats on the far end of the ellipse (away from the castle) and about half way up in the stands. You will get a good view of the performers from this vantage point as they perform in the middle of the ellipse facing in the Royal Mile direction. The show goes on rain or shine. We brought rain ponchos with us which we barely needed at the beginning of the performance and then the drizzle stopped and we were fine but you never know. You will find vendors hawking flimsy rain ponchos outside the venue before the performance. I believe umbrellas are a no no at this event but can’t say for sure. The RAF did a flyover at the beginning although I am not sure they do this every night. You will hear the drone of the aircraft before you see them fly over. There are fireworks at the end of the show. Images projected on the castle walls. The tattoo is spectacular and we will be getting tickets for 2022. It is something you will never forget.

Posted by
3115 posts

We stayed at the Inverleith Hotel, recommended by Pamela on these forums. It was really nice, located by the Royal Botanical Garden and around the corner from the bus route. It's far enough away from the Royal Mile to be quiet and not too expensive. There were at least a couple of pubs/restaurants we could walk to in the evening if we didn't want to take a bus to the city center for dinner. Also there was a coin laundry nearby and a gas station with a convenience store and ATM. This was in 2016, so things may have changed, but I suggest you look into it.

Posted by
32284 posts

Thanks, epltd, for your reply.

It was such a blast from the past... I don't know that duck duck go is still around. I used to use it years ago.

Just what I needed. Thanks.

Hope this isn't insensitive - it really did amuse me

Posted by
5678 posts

Hi EPLTD. Glad that the Inverleith is still a good suggestion. I just tagged it again but it is good to hear that others enjoyed it too.

Posted by
3015 posts

Another tip for being at a Tattoo performance: take some sort of cushion to sit on.
Seats are hard and the performance is long, and it could be a cold and windy evening.
Dress in layers, and be prepared for any sort of weather.
In fact, bring layers for the rest of your visit too.
No one can predict what the weather will be in Scotland....even on the day!
Again: book your accommodation months in advance; Edinburgh is very busy during Festival time.
DO NOT hire a car for your time in Edinburgh!
Parking is expensive and sometimes very restrictive, and there is a wonderful and easy bus system there.
You can get a Day Ticket for the entire bus system for about 4-5 Pounds per person.

Posted by
7195 posts

Mary and S J have proved lots of excellent information. The seating is on metal benches, and a foam pad helped make it more comfortable. Mary mentioned an elipse, and Od describe the seating as a U-shape, with the legs of the U pointing at the castle, from where each group emerges. They advance toward the bottom of the U. We got seats at the bend of the U, on the right side, where the leg joined the bottom curved part. Look on the seating diagram on the Tattoo Website; they’re the second most expensive seats, but not the priciest. Best combination of view and price. We had hooded Gore-Tex raincoats, and it was spitting light rain as we got seated, and at the very beginning of the performance, but then cleared up, and was wonderful weather the rest of the night.

We had an apartment right on The Royal Mile, closer to the Holyrood Palace end than the castle. For our planned return trip last year, that siderailed by the Pandemic, that apartment was already booked, but we found one just across the street. Check, or airBnB. Having a kitchen, and a clothes washer, were helpful on our earlier trip.

While you’re in town for the Royal Tattoo, also go see the Royal Yacht Britannia, moored near Edinburgh. Reserving your tickets ahead of time for the yacht is also a good idea, and saves standing in line. We took a bus to and from there, which was fast, cheap, and easy.

Your bucket list trip should include a Michelin-starred restaurant, right? Have lunch at The Kitchin - outstanding meal, and, frankly, cheaper than dinner.

Posted by
2316 posts

Thank you, Cyn, for the clarification on the shape of the esplanade. The bottom of the U is indeed the best seating so try to get close to the bottom of that U.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you everyone for all your great tips!!!
I will ck the U for desired seats - if not available what would be 2nd/3rd choice??
Did you folks purchase on line or call direct??
I always thought I had enuf cushion in my rear- but will pack something- unless any suggestions to
purchase something there??
Will definitely look into AB&B!!
Sorry my response is a wee bit late - recent cataract Sx on 1 eye - the other is next week!!!
AND yes- we are all about food!!!!
Thanks n keep the suggestions coming!

Posted by
2316 posts

We sat to the left of the U. Buy your tickets online way in advance. Print out your confirmation and then bring that to the tattoo office on the corner of Waverly Bridge and Market Street to get the actual tickets.

Posted by
7195 posts

Our seats were on the right side of center, but again, just where the bottom of the “U” was curving towards the right leg. Close to the start of the performance, the announcer called our various countries, asking citizens from those countries to respond. As I recall, there was a resounding swell of cheers and movement on the left leg of the “U,” closer to the end of the leg than to the bottom of the “U,” when Australia was mentioned. It’s like all Australians sat together. Not certain whether there was an enormous tour group, of if something in the genetics of Australians caused then to all get seats in the same spot. On the opposite, right leg, there was another mass response, but I don’t recall the country. There’re really no bad seats, but some are arguably better than others.

There was a posting on this Forum a couple years ago, where the opinion was that seats along the legs (sides) got you closer to the musicians and dancers, for a better view of the participants. I can understand that, as groups march out to their positions, but not all the way to the front. That would be like getting a viewpoint from the side curtain of a stage, rather than seats out in the audience if a concert hall. But then, you’re only seeing one side, and not the overall array of performers. Check the seating chart, consider prices for each section, and pick your seats. As Mary experienced, we showed up at the Tattoo office with our printout to claim the actual tickets. Maybe they’re implementing QR codes or a smartphone app, so the procedure could be different as technology develops.

Posted by
466 posts

We attended the Royal Military Tatoo in August 2019. If you can afford it, we recommend the jacobite package, which includes a 3 course dinner in the castle with a dram of scotch whisky and a bagpiper welcome. After dinner we were escorted from the castle dining room down through a gauntlet of bagpipers playing "scotland the brave" down to the esplanade to your reserved seats in time for the show. That's one of my favorite memories. The seats are reserved. The outdoor stands are shaped in a U. The most expensive seats are at the bottom of the U. they have a straight view of the castle. We sat half way up on a side and the seats were wonderful. You should bring a coat/rain coat as it may get cold as the sun sets and it may rain. The performance goes on even in the rain. You can rent blankets and seat cushions. Umbrellas are not allowed.
What we liked about the having the dinner package was that we met in a special area at 4 pm, checked in and were escorted for our walk up to the dining room in the castle. No waiting in the long line with the general public. The dinner seats are also reserved and assigned.

You will have to walk up the Royal mile to get to the castle entrance. And you DO NOT need a car in Edinburgh. During August, the Royal Mile is closed to cars and buses and it becomes one long pedestrian thoroughfare with buskers and side shows. It will be crowded. The Fringe Festival will be going on at the same time and we recommend attending a couple shows while you are there. And let's be honest, you are paying higher hotel prices during August because of the Fringe Festival, the International festival and the Book festival, and the Military tattoo, so you might as well experience the reason you are paying higher hotel prices.

Bring rain gear. It will rain.

Here is my review of our August 2019 pre-tour visit to Edinburgh. Hope some of the information can help you decide what you want to do and see in Edinburgh. Sides trips, walks, tours we did, etc.