Crowds at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2021, visit scotland

Edinburgh Military Tattoo seating guide August 2021. (Update 2020 has been cancelled due to Covid 19)

For the year 2020 the Edinburgh Festival, Fringe and Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo have been cancelled due to the Covid 19 virus. The Book Festival is available online and there are some fringe productions online.

For 2021 read on: The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is essentially an evening of live military performances from Regiments and Military bands that include the massed pipes and drums, dancers, performers, singers, military displays, special lighting effects and the Lone Piper. 2021 dates are the 6th to 28th August and it will be celebrating its 70th year. The Platinum edition. 

Tickets for 2021 are on sale as of December 2020 but the current news is that tickets may go on sale as early as October. This has yet to be finalised. Households can buy a maximum of 8 tickets. Tickets can be bought from the office in Cockburn street or online.

Booking lines –  Tel no:+44 [0] 131 225 1188.

For the best selection of seats that suit your budget the earlier the better.  Weekdays the performances are Monday to Friday at 9:00pm and on Saturday at 7:15pm and 10:30pm.  There is no tattoo on any Sunday in August.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle Esplanade

I have been attending The Edinburgh Military Tattoo for several years sitting in  various locations on the Castle Esplanade, (the large space directly in front of Edinburgh Castle).

Edinburgh Castle Military Tattoo
Lou Armor@shutterstock

A temporary stand is erected here and the seats are outside with no cover or protection from the elements unless you are in the Royal Gallery.   These seats are of course are very expensive and can be found in the purple section.

Seating Plan for the 2019Edinburgh Military tattoo
Seating Plan for the 2019 Edinburgh Military tattoo @

These are the factors I would consider when booking.

PRICE – the more you pay the better the seat.  A rough guide to the prices are sections 1/16 & 17 (dark blue and green) are the cheapest found nearest the castle and sections 8 and 9 (pink & purple) are the most expensive.

The only downside to the cheapest seats is that you may have slightly more awkward visibility to the fireworks display.

The other seats for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo range from £50 to £78.  I have sat very high up once but my aunt struggled to get down the stairs, (metal and quite steep) I now much prefer sitting in the middle sections 3/4 or 13/14/15  lower down.

Edinburgh Castle Military Tattoo
View of seating layout@shutterstock

The Light blue section offers excellent views and is reflected in slightly higher prices in these sections. Blue Sections 2-5 and 12-15, the tickets are  priced between £53.00 to £68.00 each.  Tickets are priced dynamically, therefore, these seat prices may change subject to demand and availability. Order as early as possible before demand increases so much that the price does too!

The seats for the tattoo start at rows A/b/c and then after the alphabet they begin in double letters. CC/DD, these seats will be higher up. At ground level the front two rows, A and B are reserved for wheelchair users. see short video here. 

Brown section: Sections 6/7, 10/11 brown colours are regarded as having good views and as such the price rises Fridays and Saturdays. There are no Tattoo performances on a Sunday.

Tattoo Cheap Tickets : If you apply for the preview ticket before the official opening ceremony these are cheaper and there will be off peak tickets, usually near end August once Scottish schools return.

To view seats and performer highlights click here

Things to consider when buying tickets: If you wish to leave early for a train or cruise ship I would sit lower down. It gets very busy at the end of the night and leaving quickly if you are way up in the Gods is not going to happen, as the steps down from the arena are steep and people move slowly.

Some cruise ships offer transport to and from the Tattoo and given the volume of traffic it may be wise to take the ship transfer if it is Rosyth. For the Port of Leith you can jump a taxi or take a local bus.

cruise ship at Port of Leith Edinburgh
cruise ship at Port of Leith @shutterstock

The Military Tattoo has toilets at the bottom of the arena and it means a long walk down if you are high up. If you need to frequent the toilet or you suffer from Vertigo then I would recommend  a seat lower down. There is a disabled area which I will discuss later as it seems to generate lots of questions and worries.

For people who have walking issues/ambulent disabled, the front 7 rows in the arena are reserved upon request rows C/D/E/F/G/H and J.

Ambulent disabled includes a wide range of disabilities and the term is used for people who can move around and are not regular wheelchair users. eg suffering from diabetes, cancer, epilepsy etc.

These tickets cannot be booked online and must be in person or by telephone. There are also seats for wheelchair users in the front rows. The box office is open from for all accessibility bookings on Mon/Tues/Thurs &  Friday 10.00am- 4.30pm and Wednesday  11.00am-4.30pm – +44 (0) 131 225 1188.

The Best view?

I have compiled a short video of some of the seat views, click here to view:

Everyone gets a really good view. People think that they have to sit high up to see but this is simply not the case. The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is planned and orchestrated to enable everyone to see. The Regiments may enter from Edinburgh Castle but often other performers will enter from the centre of the arena.

All performers face the Royal Boxes initially (purple/pink sections 8/9) but then will move round the large esplanade.

Evening Performance Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Photo Credit: Sold out Evening Performance Edinburgh Military Tattoo 

Why Join Friends of the Tattoo?

If you are worried about getting the tickets you want then this may be a good option. The benefits are

  • The opportunity to purchase tickets during a priority booking period.
  • The opportunity to purchase tickets to attend exclusive Friends’ Backstage Tours (subject to availability).
  • 10% discount on Tattoo merchandise.
  • A copy of Salute Magazine, the magazine exclusively for Friends of the Tattoo sent to you twice a year.

A Single membership can be purchased at a cost of £25.00 per year, or a joint membership (two people at the same address) can be purchased at a cost of £45.00 per year.

****** The Friends of the Tattoo has been suspended for 2020 and is under review for 2021. I will post any updates once I receive them but the easiest way to get the latest news  is by subscribing to the Edinburgh Tattoo website and click on “sign up for updates.”  ******

Edinburgh Military Tattoo packages

There are many packages, some include 4 course meal, champagne, or toast to the haggis. It is quite an extensive list and these can all be found on the official website. The Royal Gallery and VIP seats cost £330 and more.  The hospitality packages range from £130 for the standard package to £270.

Some packages require dress code and some offer seats outdoors and others let you choose your seat.  Be sure to check what you are buying. You may love the idea of enjoying a 3 course meal with wine and Champagne, while watching a private recital from cast members but did you pack a suit and formal dress? Something to consider.

Scotch whisky experience beside Edinburgh Castle.

Scotch whisky experience Wallace package
Scotch Whisky Experience@shutterstock

For example the Wallace package includes:

  • A pre-performance guided tour of The Scotch Whisky Experience
  • A private viewing the Scotch Whisky collection
  • A Whisky cocktail/ soft drink with canapés in the McIntyre Gallery
  •  Mingle with members of the Tattoo cast
  • A host to escort you to the Castle Esplanade
  • A centrally located seat in Section 4 of the outdoor arena and a tattoo programme.
  • there is no dress code for this package, however on chatting to the staff at the Scotch Whisky Exp. they advised me that it is optional but many guests did arrive in suits/dresses, especially for the Wallace or Bruce Package.

Disabled Access: If you have booked disabled/wheelchair seating –  you may be able to request a vehicle pass that will allow access to the Esplanade by car, taxi or ambulance. They are subject to availability and are not available for the preview evening or for any Saturday.

If you do have a vehicle pass then you will go on convoy onto Edinburgh Castle Esplanade. Be aware if you are in a taxi you may be waiting for some period of time, pre agree a set fare, many taxi or private chauffeur will help with this.

Large coaches are not allowed to join the convoy.

Wheelchair seating is along the front rows of sections 1-5 and 12-17 at ground level and Section 10 facing Edinburgh Castle. These spaces allows for an attendant’s seat.  There is medical services on the esplanade if required and help can be given to push wheelchairs up the cobbled street. There is lift access to the wheelchair area at the top of Section 10 and there are accessible toilets within the arena and grab rails at the end of each section.

Please remember that the convoy arrives before everyone is seated which means a longer evening. If it is cool be prepared and bring a blanket, there are people to help and medics on site if required. Hot drinks are also available to buy on the esplanade and seat cushions and poncho’s.

Other points to consider: No umbrellas, no flash photography, no alcohol and no glass bottles are permitted. Only small bags or rucksacks under 25 litres are permitted. All bags are searched. No smoking or vaping allowed in the tattoo arena. You will also need ID with your ticket entry as security is very tight.

What to wear to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo?

It may be warm, it may be cold. This is Scotland after all.

I always wear layers and buy the £1 padded seat cushion at the event. I take a warm jumper over a top. Warm coat with hood, remember, no umbrellas if it rains, comfortable shoes for walking up the cobbled Royal Mile and gloves in my pocket as a back up. I have never actually worn them or needed to put my hood up but it reassures me. The temp does drop significantly around 9.30/10pm and the later Saturday night 10.30 show will be significantly colder.

Queue to enter Edinburgh Military Tattoo?  Everyone has allocated seating. It is a very long queue down Johnson Terrace and it’s uphill all the way back to the Castle.

ticket Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edinburgh Tattoo – all seats allocated.

There is no pre show acts. The  commentator is the only warm up before the Tattoo starts.  You  may wish to be seated and enjoy the atmosphere but I usually just walk up 20 mins before the show starts. The entrance to the castle is narrow and cobbled and does bottle neck. If you don’t like crowds wait till nearer show time.

Edinburgh Grassmarket Festival Fringe
Lou Armor@shutterstock

There are plenty of restaurants around the Royal mile and the Grassmarket offering something for everyone purse. As I mentioned earlier it gets really busy as the festival is also taking place around the Royal Mile etc.

Book your restaurants when you book your Tattoo tickets.  Some of the popular nearby restaurants include, Devils Advocate, Witchery – can’t get much closer to the Tattoo – The Tower restaurant, 5 min walk, Castle Terrace Restaurant, Amber Restaurant at the Scotch Whisky experience- beside Tattoo, Vittorio on the bridge and the lovely Divino Enoteca Italian restaurant. There are local chain restaurants very near including Pizza Express.

Witchery Restaurant, Edinburgh
Witchery Restaurant. Lou Armor@shutterstock

The Grassmarket is 5 mins away and has many great pubs that serve food and often free festival shows that ask for a donation at the end. (Check out my festival guide for cheap tips and insider guide). see here to experience it. Edinburgh Fringe in 24hrs

And finally: Please buy your tickets  directly from the Tattoo’s official website at or by calling +44 0 131 225 1188. People have been caught out in the past buying from other sites and remember in Scotland our dates are Day first, then month. eg. 12th August 2021- 12/08/2021.

The box office is a good 10 min walk away from the Castle and near the day has lengthy queues.  Give yourself plenty of time to collect your tickets or print them off at home before you arrive.  The address is 1-3 Cockburn Street, along from Waverley train station, the back entrance and opposite the Edinburgh Dungeons.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo office
Tattoo office@LouArmor


Trains can also be an issue if you are staying for the 10.30 late Saturday night performance which finishes at midnight.  The last Scotrail train to Glasgow is usually 11.45 and you would not catch this train after the late show.

City link buses run through the night from Edinburgh to Glasgow. The bus station is beside St Andrews Square.

There are extended train services during the Edinburgh Fringe festival and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo for Perth, Dundee, Fife and North Berwick. I have no details at the moment and I would continue to check with   The Edinburgh Military Tattoo show lasts one hour and 40 mins.

Edinburgh Buses and Trams

There are buses and trams around the city to the airport.  This may be a good option if you are worried about parking. Consider leaving your car at the ‘Park and Ride’ near Edinburgh airport and take the tram in and out.

Edinburgh tram
Edinburgh tram@shutterstock

Edinburgh Trams have in the past operated an overnight service through the night to 5.30 am during the festival and tattoo making it easier to move around the city and return to your accommodation. We do have Uber but it tends to be on surge.

The nearest tram stop from the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is on Princes street and this will take a brisk 10 min walk to reach but realistically with the crowds more like 20 mins. Walk down the Royal mile then turn right down the Mound to connect with the tram.

Crowds on the Royal Mile during the edinburg Tattoo
Royal Mile@shutterstock

Lothian buses have an excellent website and run a night bus till 4.30am. For details and to plan your route home check out They have an excellent app and remember an all day bus pass costs £4.

I hope this helps answer some of your questions.  The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a non for profit organisation, to help support the many Royal military charities and veterans.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate you time. The blog does contain affiliates links to pay for WordPress blog tools.   My portfolio is available on Pond5 and shutterstock. Click if curious.

I have mades some facemarks on Red bubble, click here to see more of my images. 

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo has its own fireworks at the end of the weekend performances but the locals of Edinburgh know that the best show is always at the end of the Festivals. It is usually on the Monday night and here are the highlights from 2019. 

Edinburgh Virgin Money Fireworks 2019
Edinburgh Virgin Money Fireworks 2019

If you love the pipes and drums don’t miss Glasgow annual World pipe band competition sadly cancelled for 2020 but will be back in 2021.  It is an amazing day out and of course Glasgow is a fabulous city famous for Rennie Mackintosh, stunning architecture and a stones throw from Loch Lomond.

To experience a few hours click here: Glasgow pipe band worlds

Glasgow World Pipe Band Championship
Glasgow World Pipe Band Championship

If you fancy a jaunt through to the fabulous city of Glasgow click here for ideas. You can take the train from Edinburgh or bus and disembark at Queen street station. Train is  only 45 mins long.

If you cannot make the Worlds then the next big bagpipe event will be the Cowal Games in Dunoon.

The other major Highland gathering usually attended by the Queen is the Braemar . If you cant make any of these events but really would like to attend a Scottish Highland games then check this website. for a list of all Highland games from May until Sept around Scotland, Skye and the highlands.

Thank you to Edinburgh Tattoo office for supplying seating plan and information on tickets.

Lou A.

 To shop face masks for kids and adults take a look here.

  • Military boots face mask

34 thoughts on “Edinburgh Military Tattoo seating guide August 2021. (Update 2020 has been cancelled due to Covid 19)”

  1. Do all the seats in the Tattoo stands have backs or are some bench seats? Thanks so much for your wonderful blog


    1. Hi last year it was 8,800 per show. However many of the seats are sold to travel companies that offer packages and coach tours. The event is on the castle esplanade, not in the castle. See video for idea of seating arrangements at the end of blog.


  2. Hi thanks for your comprehensive seating guide and your blog – I enjoyed reading it. Could you tell me if the aisle seats have numbers please? I am hoping to go in 2020 but I hate being hemmed in. Aisle seats suit me much better so I would really like to book theses if poss. Thanks


    1. Hi Cheryl I booked my seats today and it seems that you can choose your own seats. when it says on the tattoo website , let us choose best seats for you, ignore this and under the seating plan. click choose my own seats.
      The aisle seats are C1, D1, E1 etc, and the end of aisle seat is C26. You can play around with the website, I open two windows on Edintattoo website, one to book and one that has the seating plan open. This way I can easily refer back to where seats are and what rows have availability. There is great availability at the moment and the cheaper nights are Wed.


  3. Thank you, great information as I have never been put am planning on attending the 2020 Tattoo. Do you know how quickly tickets sell out for the Tattoo, should we be ordering them as soon as they go on sale?


    1. yes I would do so asap, I bought mine today and I live here. Many companies buy up packages and to be honest no one can predict the Scottish weather so there is no point waiting until nearer august. Many dates will be sold out by jan/Feb, especially the cheaper seats. Wednesday nights tend to be off peak and slightly cheaper. Good luck


    2. Hi there are always packages available later in the year but the price increases. Some seats are dynamically priced and as demand increases so do the seat prices. If you have the opportunity to book then do so as it will give you the greatest choice. This year is the Platinum edition marking 70 years and its bound to be pretty amazing.


  4. Hi CityMom, this is great information! We are definitely looking at a package as this will likely be a one time experience for us. Do you know, are gratuities included in the packages, and if not, what would be customary? Thank you!


    1. It depends on the package but in Scotland really the only people that you tip are taxi drivers and restaurant staff. Tour guides are often tipped if informative and fun depending on length of tour.

      If on a package I would tip at the point after the meal. Taxi drivers usually £1 in town and a little more from the airport. restaurants between 10-15%. I would only tip 15% for exceptional service. Some restaurants in the city automatically include 12.5% so check the bill before tipping.
      Alternatively if your package is with someone like the Scotch whisky experience , simply email them and ask about tipping. Good luck.


  5. Hello! We are planning to visit Edinburgh the first week of September 2020. When will the seating that obstructs the view of the Esplanade and castle be fully removed? Being caught up in the activity of work crews removing the structures might be distracting. Should we wait until the last week of our trip which is a few weeks later? (We are also concerned about the weather being worse the later the year gets.) Thank you so much for the info and this awesome informative website! Tania


    1. Hi I am afraid the removal of scaffolding etc takes around 4/5 days. It’s a Pretty lengthy operation.

      Sept in scotland is usually mild and a great time to visit. Tourists gone and easier to see attractions.
      I would probably wait.

      If your not bothered about seeing the military tattoo or any of the festival or fringe then wait.
      Restaurants, taxi and landmarks will be easier to navigate. I always recommend May and Sept as my favourite Scottish months.
      Good luck.


      1. Thank you so much for this info. We will be there in September, but will take your advice and wait about a week after arrival to visit Edinburgh. Thanks!!


    1. Hi the Royal gallery, is the only area enclosed and protected. These seats are very expensive sadly. The rest of the arena is open air.

      The seats for royal gallery will also require formal dress as members of royal family attend and VIP. Though the evening of there visit is kept a secret.


  6. I read elsewhere that the castle is closed to tours during the Tattoo. If that is the case, is it closed only in August while the Tattoo is on or is it closed prior to that…. say the last bit of July and first week of August?


    1. Hi, I was unaware of this. There are daily free tours and private tours. People also buy audio tours and go around at their leisure.

      The castle is closed during covid as we are still in phase 3/4 lockdown. Will make further enquiries when it reopens. Thanks.


  7. Hi. I have been planning a trip to the military tattoo for a few years for my mother in her late years.
    Its been her lifelong dream without her own money so I’m glad I’m actually now able to get her there.
    I’ve have really struggled to get all the information needed to do this sensibly until tonight.
    Tonight I’ve read your fully detailed information which practically answered everything I needed to know. Absolutely brilliant and nothing short of perfect.
    Thank you so much.
    Wishing you all the best


    1. Oh thank you. That is so kind. Having elderly relatives I know how complex outings can be.

      So glad to help. It really is an event for everyone. With so many war veterans the tattoo really does try to accommodate everyone.


  8. Hi ECM, my son and I are planning a trip to see the 2021Tattoo. Liked your suggestion to join the Friends of the Tattoo but I have not be able to find a way to do so. Is there a website, phone # or link to it? Thanks for any help you can offer. I love your site…very helpful.


    1. Hi Sharon, thank you for your kind words. As the Tattoo did not happen this year, the Friends of tattoo page has not been updated. It should become available and the best thing at the moment would be to go to and sign up for updates. Once it gets nearer Dec, they may put the page back online.


  9. When will the 2022 dates be posted? We can’t co e til then and would love to plan Arlingtom the dates. Your information is so great…do you have a blog to subscribe to? So informative.


    1. Hi Nancy, the dates get confirmed usually a year ahead but due to the Covid uncertainty I suspect 2022 will not be confirmed until August 2021. Its always best to subscribe to the website for updates. Thanks.


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