The 2013 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has proved to be, as ever, a huge attraction for visitors to the capital and to the Festival. This year appears to be no exception with packed audiences every night and - so far - better weather than everyone experienced last year!
This year with its theme of "The Year of Natural Scotland" some who expected to be thrilled by the magnificent setting with all the traditional military Massed Bands with Pipes and Drums may have left a little disappointed.
Is there a need to have a different 'theme' each year? By all means align the Tattoo with events such as HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, but the event is after all a 'Military Tattoo' so the theme of "Natural Scotland" did not seem, to some observers, to sit easily with the acts that were on display.
The fanfare, "In the Beginning", lost its impact as the band and Buglers from The Rifles were on the esplanade during the commentator's tour of countries present in the audience. Previous years have had the fanfare as a surprise from the battlements of the Castle and possibly this might have been better.
The Massed Pipes and Drums always make a fantastic impact and this year was no different; the crowd loves them and they are a great favourite with everyone. The assembled group performed wonderfully well, but there were a few comments heard that the numbers were not as many as in previous years, however, the Producer did his level best when faced with a situation where only one Pipes and Drums from The Royal Regiment of Scotland was available due to operational and other commitments.
The Black Watch, together with the other supporting Pipes and Drums were indeed "awe-inspiring" as claimed in the programme.
"Daybreak" saw the Tattoo Highland Dancers and this year they looked the best yet, performing with precision and grace. They were really excellent and well deserved the ecstatic applause they received.
Moving on to "Spring" brought the Republic of Korea Ministry of Defence Traditional Band and Dancers who produced a quite extraordinary gymnast whose contortions riveted the audience. She was the highlight of an act whose music was very unusual. The Mary Erskine and Stewart's Melville Junior Choir seemed to find their part in this part of the programme somewhat difficult and perhaps they were asked to take on too big a role?
This part of the programme closed with the Imps Motorcycle Team who pleased the crowd, as ever, and all of them performed well. The young motorcycle display team have been to the Tattoo several times before and are always popular with the audience.
"Summer" was represented by the 110 strong ensemble of Mexican musicians, singers and dancers who gave a hugely enthusiastic performance at full volume and with enormous enthusiasm. They related well to the crowd and were a popular act, full of colour , movement and great Mexican music.
"Autumn" was represented by the fantastic New Zealand Army Band who took the prize as the best overseas performing act of the night. They really entered into the spirit of the occasion and delighted the audience with their versatility and sheer enthusiasm - a brilliant performance in all respects.
The New Zealand Army Band were joined by the Lochiel Marching Drill Team who were also extremely good and their drill was immaculate.
The "Winter" chill seemed a bit much for the Central Orchestra of the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces. They performed valiantly giving the audience a glimpse of Mongolia's history with some traditional music, dancing and singing.
In the programme the "Parade of the Animals" appears to cover the Massed Military Bands and the Massed Pipes and Drums, however, we were treated to a sight of 'Warhorse' which was well presented in association with the Bands and Pipes and Drums.
As ever, the finale with all bands taking part provided an inspiring end to the evening and, when combined with the fireworks and the Castle background, it was fabulous.
All in all a great night out for the visitor, but perhaps for the connoisseurs of this and other Tattoos it tried too hard to be 'different'.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2013 continues til 24 August