The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo Festival

 

I suspect that one thing the Class of 57 has in common is that we all love the beat of a good brass band and [most of us] also the skirl of the pipes.  The annual Halifax Tattoo has both, plus, plus.
 
I first learned of the Tattoo 29 years ago when an NDC classmate, Colonel Ian Fraser, Black Watch, retired early to take the job of Executive Director and put the then little pipes and drums meet on an international, commercial basis.  He succeeded.
 
I went on line four months ago [www.nstattoo.ca], ordered a ticket for the 1 July opening matinee, as well as plane ticket, car and hotel [inexpensive, as Elsa preferred not to go].  The adequate hotel, Comfort Inn, Dartmouth, worked great as I could take the ferry across to Halifax [itself a good people-watching experience.]  Sorry I don't have pictures, but I will describe the event as well as I can.
 
The venue was the Metro Centre, 8,000 person arena in the center of the city.  At one end was the bands' entrance hall, over which was "the world's largest indoor stage"' which could hold a 300 person choir in the centre, with trumpeters, pipers, orchestras and bands on ether side.  The cast numbered nearly 2000, consisting of eight large marching brass bands [two from the Netherlands], four pipe bands [including an excellent youth band from Sydney, Australia], dancers, gymnasts from Denmark and Switzerland, circus acts, the Trinidad and Tobago Armed Forces Marching Steel Band, and from Ulm, Germany, the band and drill team of Heeresmusikkorps 10.  There were two themes: [1] the 250th anniversary of democracy in Nova Scotia and [2] the 90th anniversary of the armistice ending the First World War. An enactment of a battle in the First World War, followed by the pipers lament, then crescendo into combined pipes and brass bands brought tears to the eyes.  It wasn't lost on anyone that, although Canadians and Germans fought and killed each other during two world wars, there they were, marching side by side, the team of  young, fit German soldiers getting a standing ovation for their ultra precise drill maneuvers. For those whose musical tastes were more classical than military, they appreciated three excellent soloists accompanied by bands turned into orchestras for themes by Vivaldi and others.  Technically, the lighting and sound amplification seemed perfect.  I can't vouch for the "facts" published in the Halifax Chronicle Herald who quoted, "The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo is the biggest indoor show in the world", but I can say it's probably the most entertaining spectacle you will ever see. 
 
As two post scripts, because I was there for the opening day, I was able to see a great parade, made more personal by watching the form up in Artillery Park, near the Citadel.  The day after the event, I took my modest rental car on a review visit to Peggy's Cove and along the South Shore as far as Lunenburg, where I spent a couple of hours taking pictures of the world heritage buildings.  All in all, it was a great two days, highly recommended.
 
NOW, health willing, for my "Canadian mini tour" next year I hope to visit the Calgary Stampede. Which day is best?
Where should one stay?  Any advice is welcomed.
 
Thanks in advance, TDV, 3853 Neil Russell