This year’s International Tattoo in Norfolk salutes women in the military

A bagpiper from Ireland's "New Ross and District Pipe Band" concludes Virginia Art's Festival's 2018 tattoo announcement (Joshua Weinstein/Southside Daily)
A bagpiper from Ireland’s “New Ross and District Pipe Band” concludes Virginia Art’s Festival’s 2018 tattoo announcement (Southside Daily)

NORFOLK — Hundreds of performers from around the world will descend on Downtown Norfolk for the Virginia Arts Festival’s 23rd Annual International Tattoo in April, with more than 40,000 attendees expected.

The tattoo is an international military band performance that incorporates music, parade, and patriotism, and this year will feature military representatives and musicians from eight countries.

The Tattoo has become the signature event of the Virginia Arts Festival and runs April 25-28 at Scope Arena.

The theme this year is “A Salute to Women in the Military,” which includes speeches and performances from the founder of the Women’s Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., the first female officer to command the U.S. Army Drill Team, and the woman who challenged the Army’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on homosexuals in the military.

“The tattoo is unlike anything in our region and is the ultimate team effort,” said Scott Jackson, executive producer of the Tattoo.

Virginia Arts Festival will partner with the City of Norfolk and American Evolution 2019 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of pivotal events in American history in 1619.

Three matinees of the Tattoo are available for school children, and performers will be visiting local schools as well, said Rob Cross, executive director of Virginia Arts Festival.

Related story: Major Disney musical comes to Norfolk — first ever off-Broadway

Bagpipe player Carlyn Aasheim greets visitors to Virginia Arts Festivals launch of the Virginia International Tattoo in Downtown Norfolk (Joshua Weinstein/Southside Daily)
Bagpipe player Carlyn Aasheim greets visitors to Virginia Arts Festivals launch of the Virginia International Tattoo in Downtown Norfolk (Southside Daily)

More than 1,000 performers including drum corps, bagpipers, military bands, precision drill teams, and performing ensembles are expected for the event.

In 2019, the cast of performers from around the world will include Switzerland’s Army Band, the Army Band of France, the OzScot Australia Highland Dancers, and pipe and drum corps from the United Kingdom and Canada. Jordan’s military band will also perform, and features the only female pipe military band in the Middle East.

The Tattoo will perform three matinees for school children, as well as a dress rehearsal for those with special needs.

Overall, the Tattoo is an “unabashedly patriotic” series of events, Jackson said, that brings together NATO allies and others in a joint show of military precision, musical talent, and teamwork.

“You have to come and see it,” Jackson said, “or risk a different type of tattoo regret.'”

The 2019 Virginia International Tattoo will begin at 7:30 PM on April 25. For more information about tickets, visit the Virginia Arts Festival website or call 757-282-2822.

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