Chief Warrant Officer Robert A. Szabo, conducts several bands at the 12th Annual Virginia International Tattoo. U.S. Fleet Forces Band, along with seven other bands from around the globe, participated in the event at the Norfolk Scope.

Joshua Adam Nuzzo

One of the greatest shows on earth is coming to Hampton Roads this month!

The Virginia International Tattoo brings 1,000 performers from eight countries, in an awe-inspiring display of military music, show-stopping drill teams, colorful dancers, bagpipers, drummers and more. American Bus Association has put this annual celebration of patriotism and international goodwill on their must-see list of the most exciting events in the world. Located downtown in the heart of Norfolk, Virginia International Tattoo is in its 22nd year at the Scope Arena.

This year, the Virginia International Tattoo is partnering with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation to present this year’s theme: Above and Beyond the Call of Duty, which will pay homage to Medal of Honor Recipients, with nine living recipients featured in a touching celebration.

Historically, these grand shows called “Tattoos” stem from a 17th-century European tradition of military drummers alerting soldiers it was time to return to their barracks for the evening. After hearing the call of the local regiments’ fifes and drums, the Dutch Low Country innkeepers would call “Doe den tap toe!” — “Turn off the taps!” The “tap too” evolved over time, and the word “tattoo” now refers to a ceremonial performance of military music by massed bands.

Here are some of the highlights of the 2018 Virginia International Tattoo:

-The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has never been demonstrated outside of Arlington National Cemetery — until now. At this year’s Tattoo, the Sentinels of Arlington National Cemetery will perform the Changing of the Guard Ceremony right here in Norfolk’s Scope Arena.

-For the first time ever at Tattoo there will be appearances of bands from Italy and the Republic of Ireland. The New Ross & District Pipe Band of Ireland is a Grade 3A band that won second prize at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow in August. The Italian 11th Bersaglieri Regiment Fanfare Band is unique, as they play while running, their plumed hats streaming behind.

-Returning to the Tattoo will be the Republic of South Korea Traditional Army Band, with its brilliantly colored traditional costumes, massive drums, beautiful dancers, and a top-notch team of tae kwon do athletes.

-Pipes and drums. The spectacle of row after row of kilt-clad pipers and drummers is mesmerizing, as the harmonies of the bagpipes fill the air.

Before every Tattoo performance, there will be a free “Tattoo Hullabaloo” on Scope Plaza which will showcase pipers, dancers, drill teams and drum line battles, along with food vendors and a beer tent with tasty craft beers. There’s even a commemorative Tattoo brew, collaboratively created by Young Veterans Brewing and Rip Rap Brewing that will be making its debut this year. A cross between a tailgate party and a patriotic carnival, the Hullabaloo is lively entertainment — plus a perfect opportunity to shake hands with an active duty member of the Armed Forces and take a selfie with a highland dancer.

Virginia International Tattoo performances are Thursday, April 26 through Saturday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 29 in the Scope Arena located at 201 E. Brambleton Avenue in Norfolk, Virginia.

For tickets and more information on Virginia International Tattoo visit vafest.org/tattoo.

Volunteers are also needed! Volunteers for Tattoo will receive incentives such as meals, a letter of commendation and VIT merchandise. Shifts will run anywhere from 8 a.m.–11 p.m. daily. For more information on how to be a volunteer visit vatattoo.org.

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