Large Crowds Attend the Sixth Annual Belfast Tattoo

Words & Pictures by John Kelly

Thousands were regaled in the SSE Arena, Belfast, this weekend by the rousing pageantry of the Belfast International Tattoo. Over 600 local, national and international artistes, with hundreds of sets of bagpipes, drums, brass and various instruments, delivered three captivating concerts which showcased some of the world’s most famous military and community marching bands.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Pipes and Drums, pictured above during their performance, the band of Irish Guards and Switzerland’s famous Lucerne Band, were among the highlights. It was the sixth annual Belfast Tattoo and by far its most diverse and internationally fused line up yet.

The event also included the Band of the Gurkha Rifles, and popular Indian Dhol drumming group Gurjit Singh & the VIP Dholies. From Johannesburg, the South African Irish Regiment travelled to Belfast for their inaugural Tattoo appearance. 

Belfast Tattoo Massed Pipes & Drums

Traditional marching band music featured, but in true Belfast Tattoo fashion, modern music also played a big part. Amigo Leiden from the Netherlands delivered their ‘Coldplay show’, which featured popular tracks from the multi-award-winning rock group.

The finale which featured all acts from the event on the floor simultaneously, delivered a powerful ending to each momentous show.   One-third of the Belfast Tattoo audience travelled from outside of NI for the event, a statistic which contributed to it earning event two tourism awards in 2018.

Lone piper Alan Barr (Pipes and Drums Musical Director) pictured during the finale

The audience for the Saturday matinée show also included many local primary and secondary school children. It was the culmination of a week of schools’ outreach activity organised the Tattoo, which included concerts by the Irish Guards, the SA Regiment and Amigo Leiden at Strathearn School, Campbell College and Seaview College, as well as engagements with other primary schools across Northern Ireland  Belfast Cornmarket was brought to a standstill on Thursday afternoon as the Irish Guards marched to the bandstand and delivered an impromptu concert!

Vicki Kane, Adele Newell and Megan Crooks of Closkelt PB who played with the Tattoo Massed Pipes and Drums

Colin Wasson, Tattoo Producer, said, ‘It has been a wonderful week of events. The Tattoo has grown hugely in profile in six years. Our reputation precedes us on the world tattoo scene now. Bands are now requesting to come to Belfast. This year’s line up was all about entertainment. It was an exceptional show featuring our broadest mix of artists yet.

P/M Ross Gillis (left) and some members of Tullylagan Pipe Band who featured in the Tattoo

‘I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped make the show possible this year and those who attended and supported us.’

 The Belfast Tattoo team also organise the City of Liverpool Tattoo which takes place at the Echo Arena next Friday and Saturday 14th and 15th September. For more details and tickets see

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1 thought on “Large Crowds Attend the Sixth Annual Belfast Tattoo

  1. It was an honour to be part of the RCMP contingent in the Belfast Tattoo 2018. Is there a way I can get two or three copies of the programme??

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