Edinburgh Tattoo set to go on the road overseas every year

The Tattoo is gearing up for its biggest ever expansion. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The Tattoo is gearing up for its biggest ever expansion. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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An overseas version of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is to be staged every year in future.

Full-scale productions will be visiting Australia, China and Canada over the next three years under the event’s biggest ever expansion.

North America, India and the Middle East are also on the hit-list of chief executive and producer, Brigadier David Allfrey.

He revealed that the event, which is seen by 220,000 ticket-holders on Edinburgh Castle esplanade each August – could even visit cities around Europe in the wake of Brexit.

The expansion plans are aimed doubling the turnover of the event, which has been sold out in Edinburgh for the last 18 years, from £10 million in 2015 to £20 million in 2025.

The number of staff employed by the Tattoo is set to almost double to around 40 under the new strategy, which will see six different events being produced and programmed at the same time.

It is hoped that the overseas drive will help the Tattoo realise a long-standing ambition of achieving a one billion-strong “multi-platform” audience within the next few years.

An estimated 14 million people have attended the Tattoo since the first event was staged in 1950. Around 30 per cent of the tickets for the modern-day event are sold overseas.

Brigadier Allfrey, who has been at the helm of the event since 2011, said: “The Tattoo is one of the greatest shows on earth, attracting audiences across the globe to Edinburgh and selling out year on year.

“We’re a small company but we have big ambitions and are focused on delivering a show that is bigger and better, more technically advanced and visually thrilling every year.

“Edinburgh is an amazing stage and will always be our home, but for us to continue to thrive as an organisation, we need to look beyond the esplanade and the walls of the city.

“The model we are developing will enable us to invest more in our shows in Edinburgh and the ones that go abroad. It is designed to ensure that we stay in front and are continually innovating.”

The Tattoo, which was awarded a royal title by the Queen in 2010, was first staged overseas 18 years ago in Zealand and has since been performed there and in Australia several times, most recently in 2016.

Brigadier Allfrey added: “What we’ve tended to do in the past is a gig in Edinburgh every year and go abroad every five years or so.

“We’re gearing up now to do at least one show internationally every year. That will mean will have to at least double our capacity.

“When I arrived we had 17 or 18 staff, we now have around 22, and we are planning to increasing it further to around 40.

“We will have two production teams in future. We design the show in Edinburgh from the floor up every year. But rather than design a show for an international audience, like we do in Edinburgh, we will be designing an international show for an audience in Australia or Canada.

“It will allow us to build relationships and draw on each place that we visit. We will then be able to add their expertise into our own bank of experience.

“Taking the show to Europe would be beyond 2021. It would make sense to make sure we have very strong ties with Europe. It is full of great cities. They are our near neighbours, a great many visitors come from the continent to Edinburgh, and it is incredibly important that we establish sustainable relationships with those countries, particularly given the present circumstances.