The Tattoo response to the Covid-19 pandemic

April 01 2020

Brigadier David Allfrey, Chief Executive and Producer shares an update on The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2020.

Like most people, businesses and institutions, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been working hard to adapt to the unprecedented conditions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic while conforming to the contingency measures being set by our Governments. 

In the first instance, we have sought to comply carefully with Government advice and guidance in looking after our customers, staff, suppliers, stakeholders and all those who rely on our annual success and charity.  In addition, we have been looking at how best to make a constructive contribution to the wider endeavour.

The pandemic is impacting across the world and proving to be significantly more disruptive and potentially longer lasting than many of us might have first thought.  The duration of the crisis will be dictated by many factors which will vary from country to country, and the Tattoo - along with other major events and festivals - will need to watch carefully to understand how best our plans might evolve to support whatever is the emerging, new normal.  Indeed, the Tattoo is already looking at how we might help during the pandemic and at how we might contribute usefully to national, regional, municipal and individual recovery.

During the early stages of the pandemic, we were naturally keen to retain an option of delivering a 70th anniversary show in some form during August.  We were keen to do this as a great many people have come to rely on our annual routines for their livelihood and their entertainment, with associated benefits that stretch internationally and across Scottish and UK tourism.  Now though, irrespective of how we as a nation are coping with the pandemic, and even when we contemplate the recovery, we judge it is both impractical and undesirable to stage a Tattoo in anything like its normal form in August. 

Accordingly, we have decided - for the first time in our 70-year history - to cancel all our shows set previously for the period 7 - 29 August 2020.   

In the light of this decision, we understand our trade and individual customers will be looking for timely refunds on tickets and hospitality.  We are ready and able to attend to this and are communicating directly with all ticket buyers to offer a transfer to our 2021 show or a full refund. 

In parallel, we are in conversation with our performers, suppliers, partners and stakeholders and will continue to work with all parties at best effort until we are safely rebalanced.

While our Box Office team will be leading the refund process, the rest of our staff will be turning their creative energies and expertise towards the projects that lie ahead - not least our 2021 production and perhaps other events and activity as well - with the imperative to contribute to our national recovery when the moment is safe and appropriate. 

The current circumstances are unique and unquestionably challenging, but we are inspired daily by the work that is being done by so many to carry us all beyond the pandemic.  As ever, it is our customers, partners and communities that have shaped the remarkable institution that we are today.  We would like to thank you all for your continued support of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo - and all that we represent – and hope to see you very soon when we return to our stage on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.


For customers who have purchased tickets for the 2020 Tattoo, you will have now received an email with full details on what you should do next.

You may also find our FAQs helpful at this time.

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