The pipes are calling and Kiwis have marched to ticket booths, packing out two of the four 2016 Wellington performances of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
The 2016 Tattoo is on track to be the second most attended event in the Westpac Stadium's history, surpassed only by the Rugby World Cup in 2011.
Tickets were made available on May 25 to those signed up to a priority booking waitlist and general sale began at 9am on Thursday. While public tickets have already been exhausted for Saturday, and only 1,000 left for Friday, there is still good availability for Thursday and Sunday nights - as well as VIP packages available.
New Zealand Festival Executive Chair Kerry Prendergast says,
"We were determined to secure the Tattoo for Wellington because we were sure New Zealanders would come out in force to support it. So, we're thrilled that audiences have acted so enthusiastically. We're due to hit 60,000 tickets sold this weekend, from a capacity of around 100,000. It's a terrific start."
The epic show, which features 1,200 dancers and pipers as well as a full size replica of Edinburgh Castle, will be performed at Westpac Stadium in Wellington from February 18 to 21. It's being brought to Wellington by the New Zealand Festival ahead of its main arts festival which begins February 26.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Chief Executive and Producer, Brigadier David Allfrey says,
"We are delighted with the response from everyone in New Zealand. We are both proud and privileged. We have been made to feel like family from the outset and this has not only made for easy working relationships but has ensured the adventure will be fun. We cannot wait till February."
The Tattoo, which has been called "the greatest show on earth", experienced its 16th sell-out season in Edinburgh in 2014, with 220,000 people in attendance. Another 100 million people from 40 countries watch it on television each year.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is presented by New Zealand Festival and has received a grant from Wellington City Council.
About the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo was first performed in 1950 as the Army in Scotland's musical contribution to Edinburgh's International Festival. Today, it blends music, ceremony, entertainment and theatre, set against the magnificent backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. Every year 220,000 people see the Tattoo live in Edinburgh, with approximately 35% of them from overseas. One hundred million people from 40 countries watch it on television. At the heart of the Tattoo is the stirring sight and sound of the massed pipes and drums, drawn from Scottish regiments. The other key components are the massed military bands, formed from across the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force, and the grand finale in which the entire cast of 1000 or more joins together for that international song of love and friendship, Auld Lang Syne. The Lone Piper, standing high on the castle ramparts, brings the event to a poignant conclusion with a haunting lament.
A few facts
- Most of the pipers and drummers are soldiers for whom music comes second to combat duty.
- Over the years, performers from 48 countries, both military and civilian, have been represented at the Tattoo, along with elephants, camels and police dogs.
- While it remains at heart a military event, the Tattoo embraces a rich and varied range of entertainment from New Orleans jazz to modern pop and folk music, steel bands to drill teams, highland dancers to Cossack dancers, cavalry to motorcyclists.
- The word "tattoo" derives from "tap toe", the call from 17th century Dutch innkeepers for last orders. It was soon adopted by the British army, who would march fifes and drums of the local regiment through the streets, their music signaling to soldiers it was time to return to barracks. In the 18th century when modern barracks and military bands were established the term "Tattoo" was used to describe the last call of duty.
- More than 14 million people have attended the Tattoo since it was first performed in 1950. The annual live audience is around 220,000.
- Approximately 70 per cent of each audience is from outside Scotland.
- Not a single performance of the Tattoo has been cancelled.
- 2014 marked the Tattoo's sixteenth successive sell-out season, generating approximately £10 million in box office receipts.
- The Tattoo has always been staged at Edinburgh Castle. Rehearsals take place at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh.
- Around 56 kilometres of cabling (the distance from Edinburgh to Glasgow) is required for each performance.
- 48 countries from across six continents have been represented at the Tattoo
- The first lone piper was Pipe Major George Stoddart, who played in every performance for the first 11 years. His son, Major Gavin Stoddart, followed his father as lone piper and became Director of Army Bagpipe Music for 12 years.
- Officer Cadet Elaine Marnoch in 1977 is the sole woman to have been the lone piper.
- Brigadier David Allfrey, a former Commander of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, has produced the Tattoo since 2011. He is its eighth producer.
- The Tattoo is set up and run for charitable purposes. Over the years, it has gifted some £8 million to service and civilian organisations.
- The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has toured overseas three times: to Wellington in 2000, and to Sydney in 2005 and 2010.