A lavish tribute to David Bowie will be staged at the climax of this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, organisers have revealed.
Images of the iconic rock star will be beamed onto Edinburgh Castle and fireworks will blast off while the massed pipes and drums perform his classic hit Life on Mars.
Organisers have also revealed that special effects will transform the facade of the castle into Mount Everest for this year’s Tattoo.
The highest mountain on the planet will be depicted to celebrate the spectacular homeland of the Nepal Army Band during their performance on the esplanade.
The technical wizardry in the show, which gets underway at the landmark on Thursday, will also be used for a special 90th birthday celebration of the Queen.
There will be a moving tribute to those involved in the Battle of Jutland – the largest naval conflict in the First World War – in the North Sea a century ago.
The Jordan Armed Forces will also honour the 100th anniversary of the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the war.
Special guests lined up include New Zealand’s longest-running marching outfit, the Lochiel Marching Drill Team, the Norwegian King’s Guard and the Imp Motorcycle Display Team – one of the most popular acts in the 66-year history of the Tattoo –whose routine will be accompanied by music from the Star Wars films.
The Royal Air Force will stage five dramatic fly-pasts above the heads of the 8,800-strong audience, including a one-off appearance by the Red Arrows this Saturday.
Other musical highlights are expected to include The Proclaimers hit I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5, and the themes from Mission Impossible, Chariots of Fire and the James Bond films. Brigadier David Allfrey, producer of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, told The Scotsman: “Most of us have grown up with the music of David Bowie.
“We have some serious devotees in the office who felt we had to include some of his music this year.
“It was just about getting the right track and why wouldn’t we have Life on Mars for the fireworks? They will be specially choreographed for the music, which we’ve completely deconstructed.”
Experts behind the opening ceremony of the London Olympics will be masterminding £250,000 worth of new projection technology which has been brought in to transform the event’s look.
Brigadier Allfrey added: “The Tattoo team relish the opportunity to deliver a completely new show each year. And, while we strive to bring fresh ingredients into the production at each turn we always look to remain authentic and true to our heritage and values. We look to set just the right balance between ‘the new’ and ‘the familiar’. Every single year we get letters from people who have enjoyed the projections that we put onto the castle.
“This year we’ve bought 12 brand new projectors which can each generate something like 17,000 units of light.
“The same projectors are being used in the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics.
“We’ll also have new digital lighting at both floor level and new lighting systems up on the gantry, which are designed to generate more light with less power.”
Tickets are said to be selling at a “ferocious” pace for the event, which has been a complete sell-out for the last 17 years, despite a top public sale price of £300 this year.
Brigadier Allfrey added: “Tickets are selling faster than at any time since I’ve been the producer.
“We’re completely sold out until 17 August and we’ve sold something like 96 per cent of all our tickets at the moment.
“We just can’t satisfy the demand from people in Edinburgh this month.
“That said, we have returns each day, from folk who cannot attend for one reason or another and it always worth a quick call to the box office to see what seats might have become available – even at the last minute.”