By Paul Ward, Press Association Scotland
The centenary of the RAF is to be celebrated at this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
The theme of the show, which runs from August 3 to 25 on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade, is The Sky’s the Limit, with projections to be shone on to the castle walls during performances.
Among the international performers will be the Royal Cavalry of the Sultanate of Oman’s Pipers on horseback and its all-female marching band.
More than 100 Mexican performers will bring mariachi music to the event while the Central Band of the Czech Armed Forces and Ondras Military Art Ensemble will make their Tattoo debut to mark the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovak independence.
The Edinburgh Girls’ High School from Malawi will also perform for the first time with girls from the Mary Erskine School choir.
The Malawi school, named because of its close link with the Mary Erskine School, is now in its fifth year with a total roll of 160 girls in the region of Engcongolweni, near Mzuzu.
Directors of the Tattoo said the performances, projections and light shows will “take the audience on the incredible journey following man’s obsession with flight, including space travel”.
Musicians will open the show with “sounds of the soaring Spitfire, gearing up for take-off” while Highland dancers will also wear outfits in tribute to the RAF.
As well as the music and dancing, the Royal Ypriana Wind Band Buglers will perform the Last Post, to mark the end of the centenary of the First World War.
Brigadier David Allfrey, chief executive and producer of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, said: “The time has finally come to reveal a magical line-up of talent set to keep the audience on the edge of their seats from start to finish. It’s an enthralling 90-minute spectacle that’s set to be one of our best shows yet with an army of young performers to the fore.
“One of the remarkable characteristics of the youthful is the optimism and their ability to not be limited by boundaries – barriers between people, communities or opportunities.
“This is a celebration of that mindset and we hope for the show to be an inspiration to both young and old, to keep this childlike spirit alive in all aspects of our lives from our ambitions to our interactions with others.
“Now that the cast has descended on Scotland’s capital from around the globe, we’re putting the final touches to the show in preparation of Friday’s opening performance.”
More than 1,200 cast and crew are involved in the organisation of the Tattoo, which plays out to an audience of 8,800 each evening.
This year will be the first Edinburgh show since organisers revealed plans to take the Tattoo across the world and double its turn-over to £20 million by 2025 with performances in Australia, Canada and China.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff, said: “In our 100th anniversary year, I’m really delighted that the Royal Air Force has the lead for this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo – a very special event in a very special year.
“Scotland has always been a vital part of that RAF story. From one hundred years ago at Montrose Station, the first operational military airfield, to today at RAF Lossiemouth on the Moray coast, one of the RAF’s principal bases, protecting UK and Nato airspace.”