The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo: Heroes & Legends

The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo is back in Halifax and celebrating its 40th anniversary. Branded as the Heroes & Legends edition, this new spectacle goes all out, boasting a lengthy two and a half hours worth of acts from every continent in the world — including Antarctica (kinda).

Anything but minimalist, the Tattoo event is absolutely massive. Never straying too far from its military foundations, there are great performances of artillery bands, weapon displays, and enough machine gun and cannon fire to make you wish you’d worn your brown pants.

Having never been to this event before, I was surprised by the diversity and skill sets of the visiting troupes. Featuring Kenyan acrobatics, highland dancing, German stunt-bikers, Brazilian contortionists, singing by Heather Rankin, and plenty of Star Wars music (to name a few examples), the Tattoo isn’t messing around. Equally, if not more compelling, was the time the Tattoo took in honouring the military sacrifices made by women and people of colour, as well as those who perished in WWII’s critical Battle of the Atlantic. While the runtime may be a bit long for some, the Tattoo can applaud itself on providing an entertaining and inspiring multicultural showcasing of talent.


I’d like to touch, for a moment, on this topic of respect, as it appeared, (to me at least), to be something greatly lacking in last night’s ceremony. I found myself completely taken aback by the amount of cellphone usage, for as far as the eye could see, flash photography and video recordings taken by the audience were everywhere. I don’t want to come off as an overdramatic square, but maybe in an event where people are paying money to honour the military and its hardworking cast, we can better abide by the rules clearly labelled on our admission tickets. That’s just the way I see it anyway.

The 40th-anniversary edition of The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo is at Scotiabank Centre through Monday, July 2nd, with an enormous cast of performers from every continent. Tickets are available online through Ticket Atlantic.

About the author

Carey Bray

Carey Bray is a local artist, actor/director, and writer residing in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He's also a theatre critic for The Coast, and has previously written reviews and interviews for The Coast's Halifax Fringe Festival, Atlantic Books Today, and the online blog, Hello Dartmouth. You'll find more of Carey's work on his blog, Sitting Ovation.