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RS Scotland Tours September, 2017

Just wanted to share for anyone taking a RS tour (or anyone else traveling in Scotland during early September) information about the Highland Military Tattoo at Fort George (just north of Inverness).The dates have just been announced as Sept. 8-10, 2017.
We attended this in 2016, and it was spectacular. We did it just prior to joining a RS tour. We flew into Edinburgh and then immediately took the train to Inverness. We stayed at the Strathness House, which is about as perfect a B/B as you can find anywhere. Clean, updated bathroom, cooked-just-for-you hot breakfast, location right along the quiet river promenade and yet just a few steps from major sites/restaurants/transport stations.
We ordered our tickets directly from the Highland Museum at Fort George.
The tattoo provided special buses for the event that left/returned from the Inverness bus station nearby.
At Fort George (an active military base) there were a variety of food vendors inside a large tented area with plenty of seating. The tattoo itself was astounding and completely authentic, with local dance groups, military wives' choir and a wide variety of military and civilian piper groups. In addition to lots of great music and marching there were enactments of battlles with multi-media projections against the walls of the buildings and even fireworks at the end of the show.
For us this tattoo seems highly preferable to the main Edinburgh tattoo. It is much more affordable, the venue is worth visiting and we really enjoyed the smaller, more intimate (think of a large high school football field) and composed of more local (and authentic) performers. We walked through the giant steel seating area of the Edinburgh tattoo, and while I am sure it is a great experience we don't feel like we missed anything at all by going to the Fort George tattoo instead. I know for sure we enjoyed ourselves more for not having to stand in long lines at entry and exit- just a short walk to our waiting bus to return to Inverness. Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions.

Posted by
5668 posts

I would love to attend this someday and it does seem much more attainable. I want to second the Fort George is interesting in and of itself. I really enjoyed visiting the Fort. I loved the views and the Fort has an interesting history.


Posted by
106 posts

Fantastic information. Thanks so much. I have been wanting to go to the Tattoo. I cannot handle the crowds I am imagining will be in Edinburgh in August.

Posted by
64 posts

We will be in Inverness on a Rick Steves tour on Sept. 8 and 9. Wonder if the Tattoo will/can be part of that stop??

Posted by
430 posts

John, you can probably make this work. On our RS tour the first night in Inverness was music in a pub and dinner on your own. The second night was a group dinner. I would ask the RS office what the schedule of those Inverness nights is for your tour week and book accordingly.
I would definitely recommend buying the tickets yourself instead of waiting to see if your RS guide can get some for you. There were a few empty seats the night we were there, but I believe it often sells out. We actually purchased the tickets the end of March. The physical tickets did not arrive in the mail until April. We were in the "East Stand VIP section" Row I (that is an "eye" not an "el). I emailed the Highlandler's Museum directly to get our tickets rather than use one of the suggested vendors. I am glad I did because we got stellar seats that way. The tickets cost 37 pounds each.
The bus from Inverness to take you to the tattoo does not need reservations ahead of time. There are at least two buses that will take you. We took the earlier bus (about 5:00 pm) which got us to the tattoo early. We had already eaten, but there was a large tented area that had food/drink/beer/wine vendors. We had plenty of time to look around, take photos etc. However, the second bus would also get you there in time for the actual tattoo and I think it left about 6:00. They did not announce that bus schedule until late June, so don't panic if you can't find any information about it before then. :)
You will really enjoy the entire experience!

Posted by
106 posts

Thanks so much for this information. I am not wild about crowds and the thought of maneuvering through Edinburgh Castle in August with wall to wall people does not appeal to me. I did go on the RS Scotland tour in 2016 and loved Inverness. Plans to go back there will include the Tattoo. Thanks for all your bus information.