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We went up to Basel for a weekend in July to see this annual musical festival. Sue has always been interested in marching band and drum line. So this event is perfect.

We found a bunch of Youtube videos of the performances uploaded by others. Some are now embedded below, don’t miss them.


Music, choreography, fireworks and light show in a breezy summer evening.


This year is the eleventh performance and it involved 30 formations from five continents giving 15 performances over nine days.


We have no idea why the event is called a tattoo. According to Wikipedia,

A tattoo is a military performance of music or display of armed forces in general. The term comes from the early 17th century Dutch phrase doe den tap toe (“turn off the tap”), a signal sounded by drummers or trumpeters to instruct innkeepers near military garrisons to stop serving beer and for soldiers to return to their barracks.


According to Wikipedia,

The Basel Tattoo was started in 2006 by the local Top Secret Drum Corps. It has grown to be the world’s second largest military tattoo in terms of performers and budget after the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Apart from military marching band music, there were choirs, local pop singers and dancers (Celtic-like Riverdance). The Korean Air Force band performed and brought with them traditional folk dancers.


This Italian band – Fanfara 8th Reggimento Bersaglieri – came running into the arena several times in between other acts. It was really funny the first time since the audience expected them to remain and perform but they ran out of the arena almost immediately. Amazing that they were running and playing at the same time.


Someone posted their “running-in” on Youtube.

Popular singer Chloë Agnew from Ireland


The Blue Devils are 16-time world champion in the marching band division – about 100 musicians performed.


See a part of their performance at the Basel Tattoo here.

Imps motorcycle display team from the UK –  6- to 16-year-old youth motorcycle acrobatics – the team started in the 60’s as a leisure activity for poor schoolchildren from London’s East End. They added some stunts and humor to the otherwise formal, high-precision marching band performances.


A short clip of a stunt by Imps.

The Top Secret Drum Corps – the founder of the Basel Tattoo – apparently all amateurs – had a face-off with the Blue Devils’ drum line – it was great but a bit too short. We wanted more time and more drama like in the 2002 hit movie – Drumline.


We found a video of the two team’s first practice session.

This looks like World War I uniform.


There were several bands with bagpipes and one performed Mull of Kintyre which was great.


Mull of Kintyre was a 1977 song by Wings (Paul McCartney’s group) about Scotland which included bagpipes.

The whole show started and finished more or less on time and lasted for 2 hours without intermission.


At the venue, all the CDs and DVDs of past performances were available for sale. They even had a shop in downtown Basel. Go to their website here on the event and descriptions of the bands.


Here is a highlight of the show we found on Youtube. Enjoy.


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