With an extraordinary cast of hundreds of performers from 8 nations, the centerpiece of the 2019 Virginia International Tattoo will be a moving Salute to Women in the Military April 25 – 28 at Scope Arena in Downtown Norfolk. Through music, historic photos and video, tributes from military bands, and special appearances by groundbreaking women, the Tattoo will tell remarkable stories that inspire us to celebrate the courage of those who serve in uniform today, and all those who came before them.

Each year’s Tattoo is different, from the participating countries to new themes of honor and patriotism. For the very first time, the always-exhilarating U.S. Marine Corps Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) Company will include male and female Marines as they sprint, jump, and climb their way through the obstacle race. The Jordanian Armed Forces Combined Pipe Band returns featuring a distinctive co-ed performance, while the 30th Guard Brigade Drill Team from Romania and the Royal Canadian Air Force Pipes and Drums will make their Tattoo debuts. In a unique twist, the French Army Band Musique des Transmissions Prise d'Armes will feature their Rugby Team XV du Pacifique to perform their “Haka,” a traditional pre-match ritual.

What is the Tattoo?

Presented annually as part of the Virginia Arts Festival, the term Tattoo evolved from a European tradition dating back to the 17th century when Low Country innkeepers would cry “Doe den tap toe!” – “Turn off the taps!” as the fifes and drums of the local regiment signaled a return to quarters.

The Tattoos seen across the world today refers to a ceremonial performance of military music by massed bands. Each Tattoo is influenced by the culture of the country they represent. Fans of these massed spectacles of music and might flock to the world's great Tattoos: the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland, the Basel Tattoo in Switzerland, and the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo in Canada. But the greatest Tattoo in the United States, and rivaling the largest in the world, is the Virginia International Tattoo.

2019 Theme: Courage & Commitment – A Salute to Women in the Military

Only one hundred years ago, women did not have the right to vote and still, over 20,000 served in uniform during the First World War. Today, one sixth of all Active-Duty service members are women. These 230,000+ women serve in every branch in virtually every capacity. The Virginia International Tattoo is honored to have many of these inspiring service women in Norfolk this April to perform and be celebrated as we tell their compelling stories of bravery and triumph.

As we salute the service women who broke barriers, Dr. Condoleezza Rice will narrate this year’s Finale; a similar role held by Colin Powell at the 2016 Virginia International Tattoo. Dr. Rice was the first woman to serve as National Security Advisor under President George W. Bush, and the first African-American woman to become Secretary of State. During her time in public service, she was particularly active in peace proceedings in the Middle East.

Groundbreaking women who will be present at the Tattoo this year include:

  • 1LT Diane Carlson Evans, who served in the Army Nurse Corps during the Vietnam War. Ms. Evans worked in the surgical and burn wards at the 36th Evacuation Hospital, Vung Tau and later as head nurse in a surgical unit with the 71st Evacuation Hospital at Pleiku. She is the founder of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. and President of the Memorial’s Board of Directors.
  • LT Lauran Glover, who made history in 2014 as the first female officer to command the U.S. Army Drill Team, 4th Battalion, 3d Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). Traditionally, the commander was an Infantry officer. She is studying at the American School of Professional Psychology in Washington, D.C. to become a psychologist that specifically helps service members, a goal she has had since joining the Army.
  • Representative Elaine Luria, 2nd District of Virginia, served as a United States Navy officer for 20 years, operating nuclear reactors as an engineer, reaching the rank of Commander. She was the first female American sailor to spend her entire career on combat ships. Luria graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1997, with a degree in physics and history, and a minor in French.
  • MU3 Danlie Cuenca, a powerhouse vocalist performs this year at the Tattoo. Born in the Philippines, Cuenca moved to Norfolk in 2003 and was very involved in NJROTC. She performed previously in the Virginia International Tattoo with the Norfolk Public Schools Choir and now travels and performs all over country with the U.S. Navy Band.
  • LT General Christine Whitecross, Commander of Military Personnel Command of the Royal Canadian Air Force. In 2017, she became commandant of the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy, elected by representatives of the 28 NATO member nations. She is the first woman and the third Canadian to hold this position.
  • General Lori Robinson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.) was the first female officer in the U.S. Armed Forces to command a major Unified Combatant Command.
  • LT General Frances Wilson, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.) Former President of the National Defense University which educates, develops and inspires national security leaders.
  • Dr. Margarethe Cammermeyer ,U.S. Army (Ret.) who challenged the Army’s ban on homosexuals serving in the military and won. Her activism surrounding “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” resulted in full equality for the LGBTQ community in the Armed Forces.
  • Captain Sandra Ansanay, joining the cast after performing in the Tattoo as a member of the French Band in 2013. Today, Captain Ansanay is Conductor for Musique des Transmissions Prise d’Armes and serves as the first female conductor in the history of the French Military.

Even more service women will be involved and announced leading up to the Virginia International Tattoo. Full details are available at vafest.org/tattoo and by visiting the Virginia International Tattoo Facebook Page.

Attending the Virginia International Tattoo

When: Thursday, April 25, 7:30 pm

Friday, April 26, 7:30 pm

Saturday, April 27, 7:30 pm

Sunday, April 28, 2:30 pm

Where: Scope Arena, 201 E. Brambleton Ave., Norfolk, Virginia

Tickets and Information: WWW.VAFEST.ORG or call (757) 282-2822

Virginia International Tattoo Cast


OzScot Australia Highland Dancers


4th Canadian Division Combined Band of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 48th Highlanders, and Toronto Scottish


Canadian Forces Base Trenton 8 Wing Pipes and Drums

Royal Canadian Air Force Pipes and Drums


French Army Signals Band

XV du Pacifique Rugby Team


Jordanian Armed Forces Combined Pipe Band


30th Guard Brigade Drill Team


Swiss Army Central Band


Pipes and Drums of the Highlanders, 4th Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland


Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums

Granby High School Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps

Hampton Roads Police Color Guards

Norfolk Public Schools Massed High School Choir

Tidewater Pipes and Drums

U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band

U.S. Army Drill Team

U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Herald Trumpets

U.S. Marine Corps Band, Quantico

U.S. Marine Corps FAST Company

U.S. Navy Fleet Forces Band

Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus


Headquarters Supreme Allied Command Transformation Multi-National Ceremonial Detail, NATO

And many more. *The cast is subject to changes and additions.

Tattoo Weekend Events

Tattoo Hullabaloo

Happy hour Tattoo style! Three hours of pipers, dancers, drill teams, drum lines, and the DrumLine Battle™! Expect performances by international military bands, dancers, drill teams and some favorite local dancers and musicians. The Hullabaloo is a perfect opportunity to shake hands with an active duty member of the armed forces or take a selfie with a highland dancer. Admission is free for this outdoor event and takes place three hours before each Tattoo performance on Scope Plaza.

DrumLine Battle™

A Hullabaloo favorite, DrumLine Battle™ showcases marching percussion ensembles spotlighting their unique talents and creativity in a high-energy face-to-face competition.

Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championship

The Fourth Annual Virginia International Tattoo American Pipe Band Championship will be on Saturday, April 27 on Scope Plaza from 12 noon – 5:00 pm, featuring hundreds of bagpipers and drummers. Vendors will be on-site with a variety of food and drink for purchase. A massed band performance and awards ceremony will take place at 6:00 pm.

Highland Heavy Athletics

The Virginia International Tattoo continues to partner with Brute Strength Gym for a Heavy Athletic Championship, Highland-style, with a caber toss, keg toss and more on Sunday, April 28 at 10:00 a.m. on the Virginia Arts Festival Greenspace, Corner of Charlotte & Bank Streets, Norfolk. Free and Open to the Public.

Norfolk NATO Festival’s Rugby Exhibition Match

A new addition for 2019 is an exhibition Rugby match between the Norfolk Blues and the XV du Pacifique French Rugby team. Cheer and chant as you take in the spectacle and fitness of this sport, free and open to the public on Sunday, April 28 at 6:00 pm, Powhatan Field, Norfolk.

About the Virginia Arts Festival

Since 1997, the Virginia Arts Festival has transformed the cultural scene in southeastern Virginia, presenting great performers from around the world to local audiences and making this historic, recreation-rich region a cultural destination for visitors from across the United States and around the world. The Festival has presented numerous U.S. and regional premieres, and regularly commissions new works of music, dance, and theater from some of today's most influential composers, choreographers, and playwrights. The Festival's arts education programs reach tens of thousands of area schoolchildren each year through student matinees, in-school performances, artists' residencies, master classes and demonstrations.

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