Edinburgh Tattoo 2013 begins with a bang

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A War horse, midges the size of motorbikes and even a military take on Gangnam Style were among the diverse highlights as this year’s Edinburgh Tattoo got off to an explosive start.

Royal Military Tattoo

Performers from New Zealand put their best foot forward. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Performers from New Zealand put their best foot forward. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Edinburgh Castle * * * *

Nearly 9000 spectators swelled Castlehill, struggling to get to their seats in time in anticipation of the night’s offerings.

The show erupted into life with the timeless sounds of the Massed Pipes and Drums spilling out on to the Castle Esplanade as schoolchildren from Erskine Stewart’s Melville College and members of the Lyceum Youth Theatre simulated a volcanic lava flow.

An opening fanfare of Highland pipers and others, including The Band of the Irish Guards, kicked off the extravaganza, emerging from the smoky drawbridge to usher a mass ensemble of bandsmen towards the expectant crowds.

Celebrating The Year of Natural Scotland, the Tattoo’s 50-strong Highland Dance troupe took over proceedings, re-enacting the beginning of time to the tune of The Rhythm of Life.

Spring was now in the air and flowers rained from the Castle in a tranquil light display, matched by the gracious moved of Tattoo debutantes the Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defence Band and Dancers, marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War with an increasingly energetic display.

The balmy evening was the perfect setting for such a showcase, but that meant the midges were never far away. This time, however, they took the form of the Imps Motorcycle Display Team who wowed the crowds with their daredevil stunts and colossal pyramid riding.

Colourful costumes, unmistakable sombreros and even the odd lasso-waving performer then took over the Esplanade, courtesy of the Monumental Jaguares Marching Band, Mexican folk dance group Tenochtitlan and Mariachi Oro De Mexico.

Even as the temperatures cooled a few degrees and the programme returned to the more traditional music of the New Zealand Army Band, many a modern and unexpected twist was there to ensure there were no winter blues,

Later, the band of the Irish Guards, the Royal Logistic Corps and The Rifles choreographed a performance to the backdrop of indigenous flora and fauna. Foxes and other wild animals were projected behind as Joey, the life-sized puppet from the award-winning production of War Horse, trotted on stage to delight the crowds.

The 1000-strong cast massed together for a moving finale where they performed the national anthem and Auld Lang Syne as the audience sang in salute. It was a traditional end to a truly global display.