Remember the old Sesame Street song, “One of these things is not like the others”? OK, pick the one that doesn’t match:
- A German precision rifle team
- An Australian bagpipe band
- A band and drill team from Norway
- Acrobats performing to a Mary Poppins medley.
It doesn’t matter which one you picked (personally, I picked the Poppins bit); at July’s annual Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo in Halifax, NS, all of those acts take the stage. It’s like getting cultural whiplash for a reasonable ticket price. The crowd loves all three hours of it. video
In 2009, the Tattoo—basically a huge military pageant rooted in history—will celebrate 30 years (technically performing their 31st season), and I’m emailing the producers…they should use that Sesame Street tune as the event’s anthem!
The Halifax International Tattoo (the word comes from an old Dutch military term used to call the troops back to the barracks at curfew) is known as one of the world’s largest stage shows and the largest annual indoor show. It started in 1979 as a classic case of somebody hearing that the Queen Mum was coming to visit and saying, “Hey, let’s put on a show!” (Prince Edward Island’s famous Anne of Green Gables musical started much the same way.)
The whole thing is held in downtown Halifax’s Metro Centre, using the entire hockey arena floor and a massive stage for the nonstop variety show. Most of the show sticks to the military theme. I still get goose bumps thinking about the German rifle team’s unbelievable precision. video And who knew there was a military-marching-steel-drum-band from Trinidad? video The Canadian military tossed in a rather intense five-minute infomercial complete with onstage paratroopers to let us know how safe they keep Canada’s shores. Thankfully, it all softened up with the Mary Poppins dancers and plenty more not-like-the-others bits.
The big moment featured the whole cast, including five pipe ‘n drum bands, dancers, opera singers, RCMP officers and more as military brass handed out medals to some well-deserving Canadian Forces soldiers. Tearjerker.
Other things I loved in Halifax:
- Chives Canadian Bistro where chefs Darren Lewis and Craig Flinn’s inventive use of fresh, local ingredients kept me at the table for five straight hours.
- Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour: actors in period costumes took me back in history to “meet” Mr. Keith, but we ended up in a stein-swinging sing-a-long.