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Belfast Tattoo, SSE Arena - Last chance!

31 August 2016

Final Reminder - Opening night Thursday 1st September 2016.

Thursday 1st, Friday 2nd & Saturday 3rd September @ 8.00pm

The SSE Arena Box Office  Tel:  028 9073 9074         Book Online @ 

The Belfast Tattoo            Tel:  028 90313131 Book Online @


The 2016 Belfast Tattoo is supported by Tourism NI, Belfast Telegraph, The Ulster Scots Agency & Department Of Foreign Affairs

Broadcast Partner The 2016 Belfast Tattoo BBC Northern Ireland 

The Belfast Tattoo returns to The SSE Arena, in September 2016, with over 600 performers, and will showcase some of the finest marching bands, musicians, and dancers from across Ulster and beyond, in a three hour show, building up to the Grand Finale of the Massed Pipe And Drums.  

The Performers will be arriving from Europe this weekend to finalise their rehearsals.  The Belfast Tattoo is now firmly established as an annual event for Belfast, and this year, we are delighted that there will be many overseas visitors attending The 2016 Belfast Tattoo    

The 2016 Belfast Tattoo will contain a packed list of international, as well as local performers.  If  you enjoy the spectacle and playing of bagpipes, drums, brass and flute bands, precision marching, the style and grace of  Highland and Irish dancers, exciting displays from European performers - The 2016 Belfast Tattoo is sure to be our most spectacular event to date and can be enjoyed by young and old:  Something for all the family at the Belfast Tattoo

Confirmed to participate in The 2016 Belfast Tattoo are:

Combined Corps Of Drums Of The Irish & Coldstream Guards

Liberation Band (Holland)

Fanfarekorps Der Genie (Holland)

The Band, Bugles, Pipes & Drums of The Royal Irish Regiment

The Artane Band (Dublin)

The 2016 Belfast Tattoo Drum Major Display Team

Ravara Pipe Band - Ballygowan

Thiepval Pipe Band - Donegal

New Ross Pipe Band - Wexford

Marlacoo and District Pipe Band - Portadown

McDonald Memorial Pipe Band - Dromore

Pride of Ballinran Flute Band - Kilkeel

Dunloy Accordion Band

Vow Accordion Band

The Harlandic Male Voice Choir

The Belfast Tattoo Highland Dance Troupe

Innova Irish Dance Company

Drum Corps Coldstream Guards 

Drummers in the Army were traditionally employed within rifle companies and were used to pass orders on the battlefield by drum signals. During the 19th Century, drum signals were gradually replaced by bugle calls. The drummers of the Coldstream Guards are thought to have been formed into a Corps of Drums in around 1872 as part of the Cardwell Reforms. Since then, the Corps has become renowned for its musical prowess and military ability. Established for 28 Drummers and a Drum Major (a senior non-commissioned officer or warrant officer), the members of the Corps play side drums, a bass drum, flutes, cymbals and bugles. All members are referred to as Drummer, regardless of the instrument that they play.  

Unlike military bands, the Corps of Drums are very much infantry soldiers first; their musical and ceremonial role is an extra task over and above their normal duties. Most drummers have no musical knowledge prior to joining the Army. Instead they are taught on the job by the senior soldiers in the Corps, and, operational commitments permitting are sent on three-month courses at the Army School of Ceremonial in order to train them on their chosen instrument.  

The Corps of Drums of 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards form half of the Battalion's Fire Support Group - providing extra firepower to suppress the enemy in support of the rifle companies. Ordinarily, they train with 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Guns, .50cal Heavy Machine Guns and Automatic Grenade Launchers. Needless to say, machine gunning is a tough business and members of the Corps need to be fit and robust due to the weight of the weapons and ammunition they carry on the battlefield. Along with the rest of 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, the Corps returned in April 2010 from a busy and demanding tour of Helmand Province in Afghanistan, where their machine gunning skills were put to good effect. 

Back in the UK, while not training as machine gunners, the Corps provides musical support to the Battalion's ceremonial duties - Queen's Guard Mounts (Changing of the Guard), the Queen's Birthday Parade (Trooping the Colour) and a number of other state occasions and private functions. They work closely with the Regimental Band of the Coldstream Guards, and have previously performed together at the Queen's Birthday Parade, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Basel Tattoo in Switzerland.  

Versatility and high standards in both machine gunning and musical ability are the hallmarks of the Corps of Drums: from performing at a private concert for Her Majesty the Queen to providing fire support against Taliban positions, the Corps of Drums of 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards are widely recognised as being one of the best Corps of Drums in the British Army.

Drum Corps Irish Guards 

Like the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards also boast a distinctive national feature in their pipe band. Uniquely in the British Army, the Irish Guards ensemble is referred to as the 'Drums and Pipes,' rather than the 'Pipes and Drums.' (Since drums were carried by British soldiers before pipes, the drums are senior.) They were formed during the First World War, with the first two sets of Great Irish War Pipes being donated by John Redmond, the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party at Westminster, whose son was serving with the regiment as an officer. 

They were trained by the London Irish Rifles and adopted their pattern of uniform, including the practice of wearing the caubeen badge over the right eye. Unlike the regimental band, pipe bands are based at battalion level, and when additional battalions are raised for wartime service, pipe bands are also raised to accompany them. 

For several decades, Irish Guards pipers carried the Great Irish War Pipes, essentially a two-drone version of the three-drone Great Highland Bagpipe. In 1968, however, with the forming of the North Irish Brigade into the Royal Irish Rangers, the Highland pipe was standardised throughout the British Army and has been used by the Irish Guards ever since.  

Members of the regimental band are full-time musicians who, in the past, used to be trained for duty as medical assistants in wartime. Since the introduction of Clinical Governance regulations within the NHS, however, military musicians are deployed in a General Duties role.  

Pipers and drummers have always been full-time soldiers who undertake their musical responsibilities on a part-time basis. This was underlined by the loss of two regimental pipers, Lance Corporals Ian Keith Malone and Christopher Muzvuru, during Operation Telic in Iraq.’

Liberation Band (Holland) 

The year 2000 was the year in which the Netherlands 55 years of freedom fourth. 55 Years since the Allies at a great price, the Germans chased out of the country. 55 Years since in Hotel De Wereld in Wageningen the capitulation of Germany was signed and thus began the peace of Europe. The Second World War and a heavy time of occupation was over. In the year 2000 was celebrated 55 years of liberation in the Netherlands. This was the foundation board of the International Rhine Tattoo reason to give the Rhine Tattoo theme. Marching Band Management was approached for this occasion and for program Liberation special band to focus on. This tie would be put in Allied uniforms from World War II and had to play music from the same period. 35 specially selected and experienced musicians were contacted. A large number of them were old soldiers who had experience with traditional military marching music. The experience they had gained in various military marching bands and drum corps. Music was collected and authentic Canadian battle dresses found. Thus arose the Band of Liberation Army Band. 

The intention was that the Band of Liberation would provide a one-off performance at the International Rhine Tattoo, 2000 edition, in the context of liberation. However, due to the great success of the action among the general public and the atmosphere during the rehearsals, which makes many former military think back to their own whether or not musical filled service, ensured to further efforts for the Band of Liberation a full to give exist. The repertoire has been expanded and consists not only of ancient martial music. Also songs of Glenn Miller, Vera Lynn and many beautiful corals were performed by the band, of course, all in the style of the period around World War II. Meanwhile, several veterans' organizations informed of the Band and is a welcome guest at various events for veterans. Many veterans from home and abroad have the Band of Liberation into their hearts. 

A note of a veteran during the parade on May 5 several years ago for the Band in the attitude jump remains fresh linger in the memory of the participants: "All the bands here are nice, but you wear our uniforms and play our music. You are us! "A bigger compliment is inconceivable. As the Band of Liberation has more than earned its spurs and became a familiar face during bevrijdingsdefil in Wageningen on May 5, with a special veterans every year prompted the Band of Liberation. Many other large and small liberation events, memorial services and parades are graced by the Band of Liberation. As the huge parade in West Brabant in October 2004, bringing together the Band of Liberation also many American veterans of the 101st Infantry Division "Timberwolf," and 250 military vehicles of Keep Them Rolling participated. Thus, the Band is a unique event in the Dutch music scene. Nowadays the Band of Liberation is still alive.

Fanfarekorps Der Genie (Holland) 

Founded in 1888 in Utrecht, was originally called 'The Genie Music by NCOs and volunteers" is now the 'Genius of Volunteers' keeping the musical tradition of the Regiment Corps. 

Many citizens from Utrecht were originally in the band, and are still in the "Genius Music" today. In the early fifties of the last century the chapel resided in 's-Hertogenbosch and if from that time called the "Fanfare Corps of Genius". It was manned by conscripts with a cadre of professional NCOs. 

Through reorganisation of defence is raised in the name of "Fanfare Corps of Genius".  

In early 1997, the idea arose to resurrect the brass band. After some conversations with the Genie's headquarters were from a private initiative virtually all, previously, conscripts of the "Fanfare Corps of Genius" reputation. In September 1997, the first meeting at our familiar terrain of the Lunetten barracks held in Vught. From that moment the orchestra

called "Former members Fanfare Corps of Genius” was born. Meanwhile by 2006 the orchestra was included in the Regiment Corps.  From April 2011, the corps, with the consent of the Foundation's "Hercules disaster Eindhoven in 1995," was named "Voluntary Brass Band of Genius".  

The orchestra currently consists of 50 to 65 musicians in historic uniforms from 1888. Traditions during their performances, maintain the tradition of the Arm of Genius. 

A camp occurs in historical clothes on, after playing the Mars Regiment (Colonel Van Heemskerck van Beest Mars) and singing the Minor Song, the brandy to pour out of a wooden keg.

The Band, Bugles, Pipes & Drums Of The Royal Irish Regiment (NI)

The 2nd Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, 2 R IRISH, is Northern Ireland’s only Infantry Army Reserve Battalion.  2 R IRISH forms part of 16 Air Assault Brigade – UK’s high-readiness early entry force.  

1 R IRISH has 4 companies located across Northern Ireland with their headquarters in Portadown, A Company in Belfast, B Company in Newtownabbey & C Company in Armagh & Enniskillen.  

The Battalion currently has a mortar platoon and a machine gun platoon in addition to the normal infantry platoons.  

2 R IRISH has a proud record of achievement in supporting the Regular Army on operational tours to Afghanistan, Iraq and Cyprus.  The Battalion also mobilised personnel for the London 2012 Summer Olympics.  In 2013, a platoon trained in Kenya, and further overseas training included Italy, Spain and a second platoon to Kenya.

The Artane Band (Dublin)

The Artane Band are the 'Jewel in the Crown' of the Artane School of Music 

The Artane Band have been in existence since 1872, and to date, have played for every President and Taoiseach of Ireland, three Presidents of the United States, three Kings and Queens of the United Kingdom,as well as many other heads of state, in their long history. They have a unique and long standing relationship with the GAA and are a well known feature of all Ireland Sundays. The Artane Band are perhaps best known for their appearances in Croke Park, but are now equally well known as concert and ensemble players of the highest regard. The Artane School of Music takes great pride in the development of the skills, knowledge and technical ability required to reach the highest level of performance achievable by our young students. 

The Artane Band perform at an average of sixty events a year, the length and breadth of the counter - this may include anything from GAA club openings or anniversaries, to provincial finals, invitations to festivals, feiseanna and rock concerts

The 2016 Belfast Tattoo Drum Major Display Team

Back by popular demand, this display comprises 22 of the very best Flourishing Drum Majors in the world.  Among this group of dedicated young Drum Majors are British, Scottish, All-Ireland, European and World Champions.  Ages range from 8 years old and upwards.   Under the direction of our Senior Drum Major Brian Wilson MBE, this is sure to be any eye-catching display!

Alastair Patterson  

Ryan Ferry                                 Aughintober                     

Alicia Dickson-Hamilton              Matt body Memorial

Andrea McKeown-Gibson   Battlehill                          

Lauren Hanna                   Drumlough

Jason Price                                  Ballycoan                        

Vikki Singer                                McDonald  Memorial

Joanne Graham                           Bleary and District            

James Kennedy                   Whitewater

Gemma McDowell                Tullylagan                       

Caitlin Graham                            Upper Crossgare             

Lana Gibson                                Ballyboley                       

Darcy Mcllory                              Raffery

Jason Nicholl                     Tullylagan                       

Kathryn McKeown                  Battlehill

Charlotte Ruddock                 Battlehill                     

Rebecca Hamilton                  Tullylagan

Katie Bicker                          Marlacoo                      

Jamie Cupples                      Killeen

Lee Nicholl                           Tullylagan                    

Leanna Crooks                      Syerla and District

Louis Anderson                     Crozier Memorial             

Emma Barr                           Field Marshall Montgomery       

Ravara Pipe Band

A Saintfield based Pipe Band, with a strong link to the Connolly family.  The Band compete at Grade 1 competition level.  Ravara are one of the most respected Pipe Bands in the UK, having collected 17 trophies at this grade.

Thiepval Memorial Pipe Band (Donegal)

Formed in 1905, and formerly known as Convoy Pipe Band, the name was changed in 1919 to commemorate the many young men who died in the Theipval area of the Somme in 1916.

The band has a long history of competing: their first record was in 1938.  The present Pipe Major is Alyson McKnight and Drum Sergeant is Clarke Campbell.

The band competes at Grade 3B and its most successful year to date was 2009 when they swept the boards at Grade 4B winning Scottish, British, All-Ireland, European and World Titles as well as Champion Of Champions and Supreme Champion Of Champions.  The band was upgraded to 4A in 2010, and further to a successful season in 2011, was upgraded to Grade 3B.

New Ross Pipe Band (Co Wexford)

The New Ross and District Pipe Band was founded in 1974 and since its inception has striven to achieve the highest musical standards . When Pat O'Gorman decided to start a new pipe band in New Ross in 1974, it was to Frank Saunders of Dublin he turned to be the drumming instructor. The Pipe Major of the new band was a 21 year old piper from Bray, Co. Wicklow- Brian Mac Mahon. Frank became a regular visitor to New Ross in the 1970's and he was the biggest influence on the direction the new band would take. He was a knowledgeable mentor for the young pipe major as well as for the drum corps. By 1980, Frank's son, Frank Junior , took over the reins in New Ross (having learned his trade in the Fintan Lalor corps). Frank Junior was later to be joined by his brother Ian on Bass drum, his sister Rhona on side drum, his wife Margaret on pipes, his son Paul on tenor drum , his daughter Michelle on tenor drum and his niece Shauna on tenor drum. Former Pipe Major of the band , Brian Mac Mahon , is Dean of Piping with the national College of Piping and Drumming which is sponsored by the Arts Council and which runs courses on piping,drumming and musical theory throughout the country . Brian is the Vice Chairman of the Irish Pipe Band Association and is a recognised piping judge . Over the years the band has had a long relationship with the Saunders family of Dublin. Frank Saunders Snr. was a well known figure in the pipe band world and he was lead drummer of the famous Fintan Lalor Pipe Band of the 1950's and 1960's. Frank Snr. was the band's first drumming instructor and was a very important mentor for a young Brian MacMahon during the early years of the band. (Brian was 21 years of age when he took on the task of building a new pipe band in New Ross!). Frank Saundrs Jnr. became lead drummer with the band in the 1980's and was responsible for training almost all of the present drum corps. Ian Saunders played bass and tenor , Rhona (currently with SLOT) played sides , Shauna (currently with SLOT) played tenor, Michelle (currently with SLOT) played tenor. Nigel O'Neill took over the role of Pipe Major in 2007 while Jim Gordon is the Pipe Sergeant. Both pipers are pupils and long time members of the band. The band spent the years 2007 to 2012 bringing in new members and training young players. This process culminated in the 2012 season with the band winning All Ireland and World Championship titles. (11 members of the contest band were on their second serious season of competition. ) and this was soon followed up by upgrading to grade 3B and then the triple achievement of All Ireland , Scottish and World Champions in the same season.

Marlacoo and District Pipe Band

Marlacoo and District Pipe Band was founded in 1949.  It is located in rural Co. Armagh, between Armagh City and Tandragee.

The Band had a very successful season in 2015.  Locally, they won the Championships of Ards & North Down; Co. Fermanagh; Craigavon & District; Co. Antrim and City of Lisburn & Castlereagh.  In addition, they became All Ireland Champions; UK Champions; Ulster Champions - Band and Drum Corps and Scottish Champions - Band and Drum Corps.

The Band as a whole came third in the World Pipe Band Championships with the Drum Corps returning home World Champions and Scottish Champion Of Champions.  This resulted in the Band being upgraded from Grade 4A to Grade 3B.

Wayne Byrne has been Pipe major with Marlacoo and District Pipe Band since 2012 with Lead Drummer, Lee Irwin (previously Lawson), joining in 2014.

The McDonald Memorial Pipe Band

The McDonald Memorial Pipe Band, from Dromore, was formed in 1977 by the McDonald brothers Joesy, Albert, Norman and Jim in memory of their father, David, a piper in the 36th Ulster Division, who piped at the Somme. Trevor and the late Donald Cunningham, who are grandsons of David, were also founding members of the band.

The band won many local competitions and they were world champion in their grade in 1978.

After a break of 25 years, the band made a return to pipe band competitions in July 2011.

Ballinran Flute Band

Ballinran is a small town-land outside Kilkeel, County Down, at the foothills of The Mournes.  The Band have one of the strongest and most noted Drum Corps in Northern Ireland today.  The band are one of the most sought after bands for parades and for display events across Northern Ireland.  Ballinran represented Northern Ireland in The Lord Mayor’s Show in the City Of London, in November 2015.  This year marks the 800th anniversary of the Office Of The Lord Mayor of London, and our own Stephen Chapman will be the Drum Major in Charge of Ballinran Flute Band.

Dunloy Accordion Band

The foremost Accordion Band in Northern Ireland - the band are one of the most sought after bands in Northern Ireland, not only appearing in many parades, but also holding concerts in almost all of our regional theatres.

Vow Accordion Band 

Vow is a small townland between Ballymoney and Rasharkin in Co Antrim. The band was formed in 1948, under its current leader, June Clyde, the band has focussed on attracting young people to take up the instrument and performing at local events associated with the UlsterScots tradition and culture.

The Harlandic Male Voice Choir

… Harmony Through Fellowship.  It was during the latter days of November 1944 that the statement "Let's form a choir" was made to a group of men singing round a coke fire in the Victoria Works of the famous Belfast shipyard of Harland and Wolff during a lunch time break. The sing songs of these men sounded good to the listeners and were a daily feature to help break the monotony of men working long hours during the war years. At the first meeting called for those interested in the formation of a choir the response was so encouraging that rehearsal began the next week. 

They encountered problems immediately - Where would rehearsals take place? And when? as the men were working twelve hour shifts. Agreement was soon reached, and an outside air-raid shelter was placed at the disposal of the men during lunch-breaks for the first choir rehearsals. One member, Norman Fitzsimmons, agreed to act as conductor and so rehearsals commenced. 

Progress was good, so good in fact that a room in Belfast city centre was hired and the first full time Director of Music, Adam Donaghy was appointed in 1945. Under Adam's guidance the choir grew rapidly in competence. The membership became larger and more dedicated, the scene of men coming directly from work in boiler suits and overalls was a common one such was the enthusiasm, which pertains to this day. The decisive moment had arrived, the choir entered for Larne Competitive Music Festival and in a strong class entry won first place with an average of 92 marks. 

This was the first of a succession of awards won at music festivals in the British Isles, the list is an impressive one. Harlandic have won the BBC 'Let the People Sing' competition a record four times and have represented the United Kingdom in the European finals of that competition on three occasions

 The Belfast Tattoo Highland Dance Troupe 

This year there will be special emphasis on the Somme Celebrations & The Belfast Highland Dance Troupe will incorporate elements into their routine to reflect on this historical event.

The Belfast Dance Troupe is led by Michelle Johnston who, in 2016, will be celebrating her 10th anniversary teaching at her dance school.  Michelle has achieved the highest performance standards in all forms of dance, including Ballet, Tap, Latin American, Irish & Highland Dancing styles. 

As a fully trained performer, competitor, choreographer and teacher she specialises in the field of Highland and Scottish National Dancing. 

As a regular competitor on the World highland dancing circuit, Michelle has won numerous awards and prizes. 8 times Adult Ulster Highland Dancing Champion, Michelle has established herself as the foremost dancer in Ireland. Lifting medals and trophies at The United Kingdom, European, North American, and World Championships have all been highlights. Being adept at Highland, Scottish National and Irish dancing, Michelle not only competes but also performs on the international and national stage. She has performed in Tattoos, Festivals, Concert Halls and Stadiums in front of thousands of people throughout Europe. Michelle is now accustomed to travelling all around the World for the love of Highland Dancing. 

As a teacher Michelle encourages boys and girls, of all ages and abilities, to keep fit, enjoy dancing & learn more about the history and culture of the movements, costumes and traditions. 

Michelle is looking forward to creating innovative dance elements for the 2016 Tattoo Belfast Highland Dance Troupe. In previous years the team has featured Champion Dancers from across Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland & Scotland. 

Michelle Johnston

Associate B.A.T.D. (British Association of Teachers of Dancing)Member S.D.T.A. (Scottish Dance Teacher's Alliance) 

Innova Irish Dance Company 

Formed in March 2013, Innova Irish Dance Company quickly rose to fame after reaching the live semi final stage of ITV's Britain's Got Talent series 8. Both the judges and public were wowed by Innova's unique take on Irish dancing which puts a modern twist on the traditional art-form. Based in Portstewart, on Northern Ireland's North Coast, the company has over 120 dancers, aged between 3 and 25, including many national and local champions. Innova will add their appearance at this year's Belfast tattoo to an impressive catalogue of past and future performances which includes both events in the UK and Ireland and tours in Europe and the Middle East. A cast of 50 dancers will perform at the Tattoo.

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