Bring in the noise, bring in the goose step

Last Friday night I attended the International Military Music Tattoo in Red Square. For those of you who have never been to a military tattoo, it’s a display of military bands. In this case, the performers hailed from all over the world.

Red Square bathed in light and song.

Having secured tickets through my school, I made my way downtown with another teacher and we took our places at what essentially amounted to the 50-yard line.

St. Basil’s in all its glory.

It was a crystal clear evening in downtown Moscow. The sun was beginning to set as the Kremlin clock tower struck eight. A spotlight hit St. Basil’s and we heard the sounds of the drums beating in the darkness just beyond outer ring of flag poles.

From the grandstands we watched as a huge band took the Square, marching in formation with gleaming brass held aloft, and I knew we were in for a treat.

Honor Guard.

I was blown away by the diversity of the countries featured – from Kazakstan to Italy, the military bands put on one incredible show after another. My favorite was definitely Mongolia, with their red jackets, navy pants, and sparkling gold helmets, displaying their might as the descendants of Genghis Khan. To see all of the countries in their elaborate dress, click here.

Mongolia – my blurry photo doesn’t do them justice but I had to give them their due!

The Scottish Highland dancers were ushered in on the back of antique cars as the men marched in their kilts, the leader wearing his hackle – a clipped feathery plume of a headdress.

The Russians certainly pulled out all the stops, featuring extra long numbers and one with the military band fronted by an electric guitar playing Zeppelin-esque rifts.

Another setting on St. Basil’s Cathedral.

The goose step, of course, was prevalent across the board, as the military is wont to do. The dramatic lighting achieved its goal in transforming the Square into an otherworldly place and many times throughout the night I was completely transfixed.

The Finale featured all of the bands playing and marching in unison.

The light show on St. Basil’s continued to evolve throughout the night until the clock struck ten. At that moment, a major fireworks display erupted behind the Cathedral – one that would put Walt Disney World to shame – providing the denouement to a magical evening.


There seems to be no shortage of cultural opportunities here in Moscow and my school sees to it that we have all the access possible to experience them. I have the unique chance to visit the studio of acclaimed Russian painter Alexander Aizenshtat. A number of informed historical figures will be speaking, including the former Director of the Pushkin Museum and an art historian who specializes in German Expressionism, which greatly influences Alexander’s art. I’m very much looking forward to the night. You can expect a full report 🙂 For now, take care and Пока!