Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo marches to Melbourne

Massed Pipes, Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Image copyright Supplied
Image caption The Melbourne performance will feature a full-size replica of the Edinburgh Castle

A replica of Edinburgh Castle will be a dramatic backdrop in Melbourne for a rare trip abroad by the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, organisers say.

The replica of the historic facade will include statues of Scottish heroes Robert the Bruce and William Wallace.

It will be shipped in pieces to Melbourne's Etihad stadium, next February.

Performers will enter the stadium by crossing the drawbridge, just as they do in Edinburgh.

"When people see it, they will be absolutely astounded," said Brigadier David Allfrey, the Tattoo's chief executive and producer.

Image copyright Fiona Hamilton
Image caption Brigadier Allfrey says logistics for the Tattoo's overseas tour are "a huge job"

Speaking at a news conference in Melbourne, Brig Allfrey said the 12-13 February tour will be only the fourth time the Tattoo has travelled away from home in its 66-year history.

Shipping over and assembling the replica of the historic fortress, which has dominated Edinburgh's skyline for centuries, is "a huge job", he said.

It will be so authentic that "people will be able to go up and touch it and wonder if it's made of stone".

Its size is matched by the logistics of bringing together more than 1,200 performers from military bands from around the world.

The final line-up is still "under wraps" but it will include bands from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere, and will also travel to New Zealand.

Front of stage will be the traditional Scottish favourites including Britain's best precision drill teams, pipers, fiddlers and highland dancers.

Brigadier Allfrey would not reveal how many planeloads or tonnes of equipment would be part of the tour, but joked that "the uniforms alone are well over the luggage allowance of any normal airline."

There will be no horses or jeeps, which have featured in previous Tattoos.

Image copyright Martin Scott Powell
Image caption Organisers promise next February's Melbourne performance will be one of the most spectacular yet

With its blend of military pomp, music and entertainment, the Tattoo plays to 220,000 people each year in Edinburgh and attracts an annual television audience of 100 million. Its last 16 seasons in Edinburgh have sold out, with 111,000 tickets sold for the coming 2015 performance in just nine hours last year.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the Tattoo was "one of the great stirring, visceral events of the world" and expected the 30,000-seat stadium to sell out.

The Tattoo has only left Scotland three times before, always for Australia and New Zealand: to Wellington in 2000 and Sydney in 2005 and 2010.

Brig Allfrey said he hoped that mastery of the logistics for this latest tour would open up audiences beyond Australia and New Zealand.

"We've got all sorts of adventures planned in future," he said.

"This develops an appetite for going abroad."

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