ALLEN PARK – Steeped in history, oozing with grandeur and brimming with breath taking natural beauty, majestic Edinburgh, Scotland, is a must-see at any time of year.
Each August, the excitement doubles as a host of festivals transform the Scottish capital into a veritable feast of the cultural arts. In an explosion of creativity and innovation, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – the world’s largest arts festival in the world – captivates millions of visitors each summer with street performers, comedians and thousands of shows in over 250 different venues, while the Edinburgh International Festival displays top performers of classical music, theater, opera and dance.
Yet for many visitors, it is the iconic Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo that steals the show. Set against the spectacular backdrop of Edinburgh Castle at twilight, this once-in-a-lifetime experience showcases the talents of military bands, drill corps, bagpipers, drummers and dancers from across the world in a 90-minute military and musical extravaganza.
“Quite simply, it’s one of the greatest shows on earth,” said Julian Mattocks, a tour manager for Image Tours Inc, whose 16-day Heart of the British Isles tours, visiting Edinburgh in August, include the Tattoo.
“It never fails to wow the crowd. Who could forget the amazing Zulu dancers, the New Zealand military’s show-stopping rendition of ‘Gangnam Style’ or the incredible Top Secret Drum Corps from Switzerland? And when the Lone Piper takes to the spotlight at the end to play his haunting lament high up on the castle ramparts, you can literally feel the collective goose bumps of the 9,000 spectators.”
Dramatically perched above the city from its position on a 340-million-year-old volcanic rock that has been inhabited for some 3,000 years, Edinburgh Castle offers stunning, sweeping vistas over the city and beyond. Having played center stage to some of Scotland’s most tumultuous history, the fortress is home to the Scottish Crown Jewels, the legendary Stone of Scone and the traditional firing of the One o’clock Gun.
From this highest point in the medieval Old Town, visitors can stroll down the city’s grand Royal Mile as far as the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland. With a myriad side alleys, courtyards and stairways to explore, this cobbled thoroughfare is home to some of Edinburgh’s top attractions.
“The Old and New Towns were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995,” said Alison Ross, a local guide and native to the city. “But don’t forget that Edinburgh was also UNESCO’s very first World City of Literature. Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame – the list of literary connections is endless. And you can still visit the coffee shop that some say is the birthplace of Harry Potter.”
For more information about the Edinburgh Military Tattoo or tours visiting Britain and Ireland, contact Custom Holidays in Allen Park at 313-388-0448.