EDINBURGH (Reuters Life!) - Edinburgh's annual Royal Military Tattoo marks its diamond jubilee in August with the massed pipes and drums of 12 bands from around the world setting the scene for the world's largest annual military show on the esplanade of the castle towering over the city.
Organizers headed by Major-General Euan Loudon have put together a colorful program of music, song, dance and drama running from August 6 to 28 to celebrate its 60th anniversary.
It is staged in conjunction with the Edinburgh International and Fringe festivals founded in 1947, and the annual International Book Festival.
Appearing for the first time will be the band of the Polish Border Guard, with their green capes, round hats and eagles' feathers, and the pipes and drums of the Swiss Highlanders, drawn from several established Swiss pipe bands.
The Poles have a particular resonance in Scotland due to centuries of trade between the two countries and the arrival here of some 20,000 Polish soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940.
They formed a Polish division and many stayed to make their homes in Scotland after World War Two.
The Jordanian army is participating in the tattoo for the first time since 1963, when the mounted troopers came with their camels. Quarantine regulations have kept the camels away this year, so an honor guard is riding horses instead.
Other participants come from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, and the Citadel Pipers from the Military College of South Carolina in the United States. The band of the Royal Gurkha Regiment will also perform.
The pipe bands of each of the Scottish army units that have served in Afghanistan will appear through the course of the tattoo.
Coincidentally, the British Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming marks its 100th anniversary this year.
The Edinburgh tattoo went to Australia last February to kick off its Diamond Jubilee year, where 100,000 people saw the show over four nights in a specially constructed replica of the castle in a Sydney football stadium.
Organizers expect the tattoo in Edinburgh to be a sell-out for the 12th consecutive year this year, with 217,000 people due to take their seats on the esplanade. Some 12 million people have seen it in person over the years.
Asked if there were any security concerns, organizer Loudon told Reuters: "There has been no heightening of the threat as far as intelligence is concerned. We have a policy of maximum security with minimum fuss."
Editing by Steve Addison