This “spectacle of music and might,” as it was dubbed by CBS Sunday Morning, is a celebration in the grand tradition of the Royal Edinburgh Tattoo — a modern-day massed military celebration that springs from the centuries-old ceremony that called soldiers back to the barracks at day’s end.
The Virginia International Tattoo is the largest such celebration in the United States, and one of the most spectacular in the world. This year’s Tattoo brings more than 850 performers from six countries: the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Russia, the Republic of Korea, and Canada, as well as proud servicemen and women from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines.
Each year, the Virginia International Tattoo mounts a new show, with a new theme and a new international cast of performers. This year’s “Tribute to Military Families” offers a display of pride and emotion sure to resonate with young and old. In a show that fills Norfolk’s enormous Scope Arena, cheering audiences will welcome kilt-clad dancers from the Scottish Highlands, elaborately costumed drummers from the Republic of Korea Traditional Army Band, and high-flying folk dancers from Russia’s Nalmes State Academic Ensemble. Canada’s renowned pipe and drum corps will fill the air with the call of the bagpipes as they march in row after proud row. In full historic World War I period uniform, members of The Band of The Mounted Arms from the Royal Netherlands Army Band will showcase a one-of-a-kind musical display on bicycles.
And you will have the chance to cheer your own brothers and sisters in uniform as crack U.S. teams drill in razor-sharp precision, and some of the top military bands in the country march and play.
With just three performances, April 30 through May 2, the Virginia International Tattoo shows sell out fast. Tickets start at $20, available online at vafest.org.
The Virginia International Tattoo is just one of the exciting events in the 2010 Virginia Arts Festival. There’s every kind of music, from the down-home bluegrass of Music from the Crooked Road, April 18 in Norfolk, to the mellow jazz of trumpeter Chris Botti, performing May 14 in Virginia Beach. The beguiling African Children’s Choir sings, drums, and dances May 12 in Norfolk, and three-time Tony nominee Kelly O’Hara shares her favorite Broadway show tunes in an intimate, elegant cabaret evening in Williamsburg, May 29. Fans of the glam band Queen can rock out to Music of Queen: A Rock Symphony, May 22 in Norfolk. For classical music buffs, the festival offers performances by such renowned artists as cellist Alisa Weilerstein, pianists Maurizio Pollini and Andre-Michel Schub, the Orion String Quartet, Boston Brass, the Venice Baroque Orchestra and more.
Musical theater fans will appreciate the Festival’s headline-making new staging of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, the 1971 classic that fills the stage with full orchestra, two choirs, dancers, and soloists — be sure to catch one of two performances in Norfolk, April 23 and 24.
And in one of the most exciting dance events in the nation this season, the festival will welcome Britain’s famed Birmingham Royal Ballet in its critically acclaimed staging of Swan Lake. This will be the renowned company’s only U.S. appearance this season, May 7-9 in Norfolk’s Chrysler Hall. For modern dance lovers, the always-exciting Pilobolus Dance Theatre twists and turns in Virginia Beach, May 15 and 16; and Garth Fagan Dance struts its sensational stuff April 15 in Norfolk.
If you’d rather while away the day in the sun, the Virginia Beer Festival offers live music and award-winning brews from around the world, May 15 in Norfolk’s Town Point Park, and the PANorama Caribbean Music Fest brings the island sounds of steel drum bands to free concerts on Virginia Beach’s oceanfront stage, May 7 and 8.
The Virginia Arts Festival offers a host of compelling reasons to visit one of the most visitor-friendly regions of our country, in historic cities filled with fascinating museums, walking tours, great shopping and dining, beaches, and theme parks. The Festival’s partner hotels offer packages that make the trip affordable for families, and the timing is perfect for a romantic spring getaway or a memorable Mother’s Day celebration.