• Penny Neef

Turn on the Taps: Virtual Virginia International Tattoo Pandemic Edition

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

Words By Penny Neef Images courtesy of Virginia Arts Festival



One of the highlights of the Virginia Arts Festival each year is the Virginia International Tattoo. I am not the most patriotic person, but there is nothing like this over the top, bagpipe music to the ceiling of the Scope, giant American flag waving salute, to make you feel like the USA has always been a great country.


Scott Jackson and his mighty team put together a spectacular show each year. Military bands come to Norfolk from around the world. It is a cast of thousands. It takes a whole year to bring together all these talented musicians, singers, and dancers into a show that is guaranteed to give you goosebumps.

Top Secret Drum Line at the 2016 Virginia International Tattoo

There is no traveling this year. There cannot be thousands of performers on the floor of the Scope Arena or thousands of people watching at the Scope. The Virginia International Tattoo live performances have been canceled, along with the rest of the Virginia Arts Festival for this spring.


This is still “Tattoo Week”. Like the rest of the world, the Virginia International Tattoo has gone virtual, all except the beer. You can still enjoy a Tattoo themed beer. More on that in a bit.

A drill team throws their rifles at the 2016 Virginia International Tattoo.

Through social media and your TV, here are a few of the ways you can experience the Virginia International Tattoo- all for free this year:


Thursday, April 30 Celebrate a salute to WW II veterans with the Opening Night Celebration 7:30pm on Facebook  Friday, May 1 WHRO 15 will broadcast the 2016 Tattoo – check your local listings 8:30pm Preshow Watch Party on Facebook  9:00pm 2016 Tattoo on WHRO Saturday, May 2 Virtual Salute to the Greatest Generation – the Tattoo will honor WWII veterans with a special appearance by journalist Joe Galloway 10:00pm Watch Party on Facebook  Sunday, May 3 March Off – The Parting Glass and Final March Off 5:00pm Watch Party on Facebook 


The Virginia International Tattoo also does a Special Audience Night each year for people with disabilities and special needs that might need some extra space or room to walk around during the show. Special Audience Night was inspired by Scott Jackson’s daughter, Samantha, who is autistic. Her favorite part of the show is always those hundreds of bagpipers. Jackson put together this video for Samantha and her friends.


Now about that beer – long before coronavirus rocked our world, VAF collaborated with Rip Rap Brewing Company to produce a beer in honor of the 2020 Virginia International Tattoo and the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII.  Rip Rap has both a pick-up and delivery service, and says the beer’s “soft wheat and lightly toasted malt add subtle depth to this classic style”.  For more information about how you can toast to the Greatest Generation with a glass or two of 1945 Salute beer, click here

Rip Rap Brewing Company's 1945 Salute Beer.

Virginia Arts Festival Executive Director Rob Cross understands the need for social distancing during this time. He is disappointed that the VAF has had to cancel some of the world’s great artists this spring. “We wanted to offer our audiences the opportunity to share some past performances in their homes as they shelter in place. In this time, we need the joy and hope and inspiration the arts provide.” For a complete list of all the VAF’s virtual performances, go to their Virtual Connections page.


For a complete list of all the virtual Tattoo events this year, check out their facebook!

#VirginiaArtsFestival #VirginiaInternationalTattoo

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