Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2014 programme revealed

Trinidad and Tobago's Steel Orchestra. Picture: contributed

Trinidad and Tobago's Steel Orchestra. Picture: contributed

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ZULU warriors, Shetland ­fiddlers and Kiwi dancers are among the vast cast of ­performers set to thrill crowds at this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Details of the programme were unveiled today – just days before the annual three-week extravaganza gets underway.

More than 97 per cent of tickets for the 24 performances on the Castle Esplanade have been sold, with 220,000 visitors expected to see the 65th Tattoo, which is based on the theme “Our Home, Friends and Family”, to reflect the Year of Homecoming 2014.

Opening this year’s ­proceedings will be a specially commissioned fanfare composed by Michael McDermott – ­created to celebrate the Year of Homecoming – entitled Ready to Go! It will be performed at the start of each performance by one of the ­largest fanfare teams ever gathered for the Tattoo.

A band of 260 pipers and drummers from around the world will then cross the drawbridge through smoke and light, to take to the arena.

As well as drawing on ­musicians from famous regiments, the band will include civilian ­pipers from around Scotland recruited to take part in the Tattoo.

The programme then embarks on a “journey” around the world, taking in a number of Commonwealth nations.

Tattoo chief executive and producer Brigadier David Allfrey said: “I am fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to the ends of our inhabited earth to meet our friends and allies and am always struck by the impact that Scotland has made and the warmth with which visitors are greeted.

“Nowhere is this more evident than across the countries of the Commonwealth.”

First stop is the island fortress of Malta, with The Band of The Armed Forces of Malta making their debut at the Tattoo, with 58 musicians and dancers on parade.

Then it will be on to South Africa, celebrating 20 years of democracy this year, and the iNgobamakhosi Zulu Dance Troupe with some of their ­battle songs. Other highlights will include the Nagaland Folkloric Group from north-east India with songs and dances celebrating their rural lives, as well as the New Zealand Kapa Haka Dancers and New Zealand Highland Dancers.

From the southernmost island of the Caribbean, the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra returns for its fifth appearance.

A huge band of 40 fiddlers from the Shetlands, clad in distinctive Shetland Island jumpers, have been assembled for this year’s spectacular

And there is a celebration of the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Marines.

The finale, with more than 1150 cast members, will include the Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools Choir, balloons, flares, dance music from across the century and fireworks.