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Members of the Wake and District Pipe Band (and some guest players) are on the road to Norfolk, Virginia to participate in the Virginia International Tattoo as part of the largest cast of over 1,500 performers! Military bands, drill teams, bagpipers, drummers, celtic dancers, choirs and more from around the globe will create a series of spectacular performances throughout the week of 18 April 2016.
What is a tattoo? 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.
The tattoo was originally a form of military music, but the practice has evolved into more elaborate shows involving theatrics and musical performances. It is also used to designate military exhibitions such as the Royal International Air Tattoo.
The term dates from around 1600 during the Thirty Years’ War in the Low Countries (Belgium and the Netherlands). The Dutch fortresses were garrisoned with mercenary troops that were under federal command since 1594. The Dutch States Army had become a federal army, consisting mostly of Scottish, English, German and Swiss mercenaries, but commanded by a Dutch officer corps. Drummers from the garrison were sent out into the towns at 21:30 hrs (9:30PM) each evening to inform the soldiers that it was time to return to barracks. The process was known as doe den tap toe (Dutch for “turn off the tap”), an instruction to innkeepers to stop serving beer and send the soldiers home for the night. The drummers continued to play until the curfew at 22:00 hrs (10:00PM). Tattoo, earlier tap-too and taptoo, are alterations of the Dutch words tap toe which have the same meaning.
Over the years, the process became more of a show and often included the playing of the first post at 21:30 hrs and the last post at 22:00. Bands and displays were included and shows were often conducted by floodlight or searchlight. Tattoos were commonplace in the late 19th century with most military and garrison towns putting on some kind of show or entertainment during the summer months. Between the First World War and the Second World War elaborate tattoos were held in many towns, with the largest in Aldershot, England.
Canada’s Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo is the largest annual indoor tattoo, each year featuring over 2000 performers from around the world. The tattoo has been produced since 1979 by Colonel Ian Fraser, who also produced the1967 Canadian Centennial Tattoo, the world’s largest travelling show. Through the course of his career Fraser has produced and / or directed more than 1000 international tattoo productions across the globe.
The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo is unique in that it is a full theatrical production, comprising costume designers, props designers, full wardrobe staff, and is presented as ‘theatre in the round’. The show is intensely rehearsed over a two-week period and is a wholly combined military and civilian production. The Nova Scotia Tattoo was the first tattoo to receive royal designation on the occasion of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 80th Birthday in 2006

The largest tattoo in the United States is the Virginia International Tattoo, held every year in Norfolk, Virginia.  Over 1,500 performers play traditional music and many international acts join every branch of the Armed Forces.

The United States Air Force holds tattoos for many different events and celebrations, like base openings and closers, and special events like the 21st Annual Langley Tattoo.[2] The Air Force’s largest tattoo is held the last Friday of June each year at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. The 2010 tattoo there drew an estimated 75,000 people and featured the rock group .38 Special. The 2011 event featured aircraft flyovers and music by country group Lonestar.
The now-defunct Quebec City International Festival of Military Bands, and its Quebec City Military Tattoo, took place in August between 1998 and 2013.

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