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What is a Tattoo?



The word has its roots in the Dutch expression "tap toe" or "tap-shut" which meant the closing of inns. This word was linked to the noise made by mallets used to shut the beer barrels.That noise sounded like a drum. Thereafter, the word was used as reference to the last military call at the time of curfews.

 The Malta Tattoo is the annual major tourism draw, and is a reflection of Malta’s military music heritage. The event has earned a well deserved reputation for offering its audiences an exciting and vibrant blend of music and performances by a Maltese and international line-up of talent. This unique gathering of performers from various countries continues to be a yearly highlight in the local calendar.  

The Maltese are very fond of band music. This is reflected in the fact that in Malta there are 90 active band clubs with a total of 3,931 persons who are resident or trainee band players. With a total band club membership of over 30,000, these form over six per cent of the total population aged 5-84 years.

These figures, even by themselves, show the popularity of band music in Malta. But if taken against a background of about 1,250 band programmes performed yearly within the locality of the band clubs and outside their locality, we get the real feeling of the Maltese population towards band music. On the other hand, the active presence of tourists in band marches and musical programmes indicates that band music is an added value to our tourism product./p>

The Malta Tattoo is a pleasant conclusion of the Maltese festive season in which band clubs have the lion’s share of the entertainment. 

History in brief ...
During the eighteenth century, drummers could be seen criss-crossing the streets of Dutch villages, beating their drums, telling the soldiers it was time for them to get back to their barracks. The beating rhythm of the drums also signalled the last call for the inn tenders to close for the night. Since that time, the vocal sound changed from "tap toe" to "tattoo". The word was kept through the generations and is now used to announce a large mass military celebration, offered as an evening entertainment. Today, "Tattoos" are extraordinary entertainment events where hundreds of musicians from many bands share the spotlight in marching routines, military ability and artistic demonstrations.

We hope you get a chance to experience the Military Tattoo for real very soon!
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