March 3, 2009 / 5:07 PM / in 8 years

Edinburgh tattoo to kick off 60th anniversary in Australia

<p>A soldier plays his bagpipes while marching with colleagues during rehearsals for the forthcoming Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh, Scotland on July 30, 2008.David Moir</p>

EDINBURGH (Reuters Life!) - The Edinburgh military tattoo, one of the world's largest annual military displays, will kick off its 60th anniversary next year in Australia.

Organizers said the Australian kickoff will be the biggest extravaganza since the tattoo started in 1950 and will include mass military bands from Britain when it is held next February at the Sydney football stadium.

The first overseas performance of the tattoo was in the New Zealand capital of Wellington in 2000. This was followed by a hugely-popular show in Sydney five years later, also at the city's football stadium.

"The new production will be the biggest ever seen in the event's six-decade history," organizers said in announcing the Australia trip on Tuesday.

Bands will play in front of A$1 million backdrop ($643,900) replica of the tattoo's home base, Edinburgh Castle.

"I can think of no better way of kicking off our diamond jubilee year in 2010 by returning to the city and country which opened their hearts to us so warmly when we visited Sydney last time round," the tattoo's chief executive Major General Euan Loudon said.

Celebrating the long history of close ties between the British and Australian military, it is entitled: "The Edinburgh Military Tattoo -- celebrating 60 years of valor, mateship and glory."

The tattoo has been an integral part of the Edinburgh International Festival, the world's biggest annual celebration of the arts which itself was started in 1947 as an antidote to the bleak years after World War Two.

The organizers said the 2010 Sydney event would have 1,500 performers, among them more than 300 musicians from Britain, including the pipes and drums of units of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The popular Top Secret Drum Corps from Basel in Switzerland will also perform in Sydney.

Bands and highland dancers from Australia and New Zealand have also been frequent visitors to Edinburgh over the years.

The dates and full program for the Sydney show will be announced later this year. The 2009 tattoo in Edinburgh runs from August 7 to 29.

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