Image: Basel Tattoo 2023

The Basel Tattoo 2023

Today, an arena for almost 8,000 spectators stands in the former barracks area (der Kasernenhof) in Basel. The premiere of the 16th Basel Tattoo will take place here from 14 to 22 July. Top formations from five continents with around 1 000 artists will enchant the audience and the city (tickets are available at

The Basel Tattoo shows a unique combination of dance, horses, parades, pipes, drums, Mariachi music and Aztec dancers, bands of the Sultanate of Oman, the Tattoo Choir and the world’s only Tattoo Guard.

The first rehearsals were a colourful, musical and choreographic spectacle! And Basel Tattoo is also the result of the Swiss militia system, the cooperation with the army, the city, the canton of Basel-Stadt, the population and businesses.

The population and others involved have also decided on the colours of the ties, direct democracy à la Suisse. And the organisation is proud of this choice.

Members of the Basel Tattoo organisation (Erik Julliard and René Häfliger) with the ties during the press conference. Mr Julliard was a member of the Basel Top Secret Drum Corps. The world-famous Top Secret Drum Corps of Basel arranged, in collaboration with the Scottish film composer Lorne Balfe the theme tune for the latest film in the series Mission Impossible- Dead Reckoning part one by Tom Cruise. This premiere is on 12 July, so there are two Basel-orientated world premieres within two days!

The Patrouille Suisse will fly over the Arena on Friday 14 July (without aerobatic show). The participation of the Patois suisse (and their cows and le Ranz des vaches) has not yet been confirmed.

Doe den tap toe

By the way, the Old Dutch “doe den tap toe” (turn off the tap) is at the origin of the Dutch word “taptoe”, tattoo in German and English. “Doe den tap toe” has a military context and means to turn off the beer tap. On the other hand, Heimweh (homesickness in English) is a Swiss word.

The beer taps were closed on the command ‘doe den tap toe’, often supported by a drum or trumpet signal. Over time, “tattoo” has also become a term for military music festivals.

The Barracks Yard

The barracks yard is, therefore, the right setting for a tattoo. The Klingental Convent (today the Kleines Klingental Museum) for Dominican nuns was closed after the Reformation (1527). The buildings were used for storage, commercial space and as a location for the city garrison. The new barracks were completed in 1863 and housed troops until 1965. So there have been many taps and ‘doe den tap toe’ commands (Zapfstreich in German).

The rehearsals of the Lucerne Marching Band, the Combined Bands of the Royal Cavalry and the Royal Guard of the Sultanate of Oman and the Banda Monumental de Mexiko.

Basel Tattoo 2023

Quests of honour, so to speak, are the musicians of the Brass Band of the 194th Pontoon Bridge Brigade of the brave Ukrainian army. Exceptional performers are also the Combined Bands of the Royal Cavalry, the Royal Guard of the Sultan of Oman, and the Mariachis and dancers from Mexico. The formation from Oman consists of 50 wind musicians, bagpipe players, and 46 horses. Aztec dancers and Mariachi music accompany the dancers from Mexico.

The New Zealand Army Band represents the fourth participating continent. The Canadiana Celtic Highland Dancers are the 50 best highland dancers in Canada. Together with the Mounties of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian members of the Massed Pipes and Dr, they represent the fifth continent.

The European continent is, besides the Ukrainian Brass Band, represented by the Lucerne Marching Band, music and dance of the Scottish Act, the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, the Swiss Military Band, the Basel Tattoo Guard, the Basel Tattoo Choir and the British pipers and drummers of The Massed Pipes and Drums.

The famous Street Parade takes place on Saturday, 15 June, and the Basel Tattoo Children’s Day on 22 July.

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