The Visitor Experience
Now a dazzling show is spread out on the Esplanade, a whirling and colourful kaleidoscope of music, dance and display. It may be exciting - daredevil motorcycles at speed and the breathtaking re-enactment of battles, or exotic - Turkish music and Chinese dancers, or simply the best of Scottish - Highland dancers wheeling and swirling to a fiddle orchestra.
Such is the blend of home and international talent that the show is always fresh, exciting and alive, even for the many faithful fans who 'never miss' a yearly visit to the Tattoo. Over some 60 years of the Tattoo they would have seen performers from more than 40 countries - from Australia to Canada, Africa to Fiji, France to Nepal, The Netherlands to the United States.
International guest performers bring another dimension to a familiar pageant but it is the pipes and drums, which serve as the emotional core, the heart of the Tattoo which Scots, love fiercely and visitors quickly take to their own hearts.
And above all else the awesome presence of the Castle, great flaring torches lighting its venerable walls and creating mysterious shadow plays on the honey coloured stone.
Now, the audience gather themselves together for the finale. All 1000 or so performers are on the Esplanade, column after column of marchers, dancers, and bandsmen. The audience joins in the great chorus of singing and cheering, and applause and cries of 'Bravo!' before a hush falls for the singing of the Evening Hymn, the sounding of the Last Post and the lowering of the flags.
And finally, all eyes are drawn to the Castle ramparts, where a single spotlight cues the Lone Piper to play his haunting lament, the high notes echoing across the still night sky and across the dark city, as the flames of the Castle torchlights and the piper's warming brazier flicker and slowly die.
Fireworks burst out against the black sky, but the spell is not broken for when we sing 'Auld Lang Syne' and shake our neighbour's hand, the emotions linger and the heart is full.
Tattoo-goers all, united by international friendship, the shared love of a nation, its music and its traditions.
'Will ye no come back again'? says the haunting old song and our answer must be 'oh, yes and very soon'.
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