Update: An article I wrote about this event was published on the Reserve Force Division website. Here is the PDF document.
In barely two weeks’ time, the imposing stone walls of the venerable 330-year-old Castle of Good Hope in central Cape Town will be reverberating to the rhythmic thumping of drums, the wailing of bagpipes and the echoing boom of live gunfire, as the oldest military headquarters in the country hosts the sixth Cape Town Military Tattoo 2010.
One of the not-to-be-missed highlights of the Cape Town calendar, the Tattoo has proved so popular among locals and visitors that it has now become an annual event, from its humble beginnings in 2003. The sell-out success of the last years has even persuaded organisers to extend the Tattoo by a day: This year, the nightly performances will take place from Wednesday 3 November to Saturday 6 November 2010.
The main theme of this year’s tattoo is ‘Come Home to Africa’, with the sub-theme being ‘A Tribute to the Unsung Heroes’. This is an acknowledgement of all the men and women of the military support services, who provide combat support.
The familiar and much-loved stalwarts of the more than 2-hour-long programme are participating this year too, such as the SA Army Bands of Cape Town and Kroonstad, and the Pipes and Drums of Cape Field Artillery and of 1 Medical Battalion Group. In addition, spectators will also be entertained by the Rwanda Army Band, the Drum Majorettes from Curro Private School with their twirling batons, and the SAPS Mounted Unit with their powerful steeds.
Let us not forget the Castle Guard Halberdiers who perform the Key Ceremony at the beginning of the show, when the massive gates to the Castle are locked. Or the wonderful chaps in period costume who fire their muskets and 2 lb cannons from the ornamental Kat balcony with such devastating effect! As in previous years, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture will be performed, as it should be – to the accompaniment of live gunfire from the Cape Field Artillery’s ceremonial 25-pounder guns!
This year, however, there will be an additional event: a breath-taking mock attack on the Castle to illustrate the role of the medical support!
Brace yourselves to be swept away by marvellous music, dazzling costumes, and thrilling displays of military power!
The main show starts at 20h00, but the Castle will open its gates to the public at 18h00 every evening. Safe parking will be available on the Grand Parade in front of the Castle. Refreshments will be on sale at the De Goewerneur Restaurant.
This year, for the first time, spectators who arrive early will also be treated to some exciting pre-show performances of youth groups, such as the Sea Cadets and the drill squad from the Western Province School Marching Drill and Exhibition Association.
In June and July this year, the Defence Reserves showcased their involvement with skills development among the youth in Cape Town, by putting together an exciting programme involving five talented youth groups who performed at the Castle during the 2010 FIFA World Cup: the Portlands High School Field Marching Band, the Eerste River Youth Brigade, the Malibu Drum Majorettes, the South African Sea Cadets and the Limited Edition Drum Corps.
During the recent mid-term school holidays, a group of youngsters from various schools in the Western Cape were selected and trained by the SA Army Band Cape Town; these have combined forces to make up the drill squad from the Western Province School Marching Drill and Exhibition Association, which will be entertaining Tattoo audiences before the main performance begins at 20h00.
On Tuesday, 19 October 2010, the much-anticipated media launch for the Cape Town Military Tattoo 2010 was held at the Castle of Good Hope. The journalists, reporters and photographers from various media (print, radio, television) were treated to a series of live performances. First, the brave men and women of the SAPS Mounted Unit charged around the arena on their tempestuous and mighty steeds.
Thereafter, the SA Army Band Cape Town gave a magnificent and polished display of their musical and marching skills, once again showing why they are such crowd-pleasing favourites.
Then the photographers and journalists were taken up close and personal to the muskets and the 2lb cannon. It was explained – and then demonstrated to spectacular effect – how the different muskets, including the so-called ‘Brown Bess’, the Blunderbuss and the Caplock rifle, are loaded and fired. That 2lb pound cannon may look rather small and insignificant close-up, but it packs a truly mighty punch! The thunderous report of the live gunfire thus created considerable excitement, as the echoes of the explosion reverberated around the front courtyard amidst clouds of cordite.
Thereafter, it was the turn of the Cape Field Artillery Pipes and Drums in their red tartan kilts and brown army jackets to join forces with the SA Army Band Cape Town, as they marched into the arena. They ended the evening’s show with a soul-stirring and truly goose-bumps inducing performance of ‘Highland Cathedral’.
The show was followed by a media briefing in the Het Bakhuys Officers’ Mess, with Lt Col Johan Conradie giving a short presentation on the Cape Town Military Tattoo 2010 and the performers that will be part of the event this year.
This was followed by refreshments in the tastefully decorated Dolphin Room overlooking the Dolphin Pool, which was lit up almost eerily in red. This was the perfect opportunity to socialise and engage in some networking.
Since bookings opened at Computicket last week, more than 700 tickets have already been sold, which is clearly testimony of the popularity of this event!
So, call up your friends, email your colleagues, make your travel plans, and book your seats!
Whatever you do, don’t miss the Cape Town Military Tattoo 2010!