Performers were putting the final touches to their acts yesterday as rehearsals for the inaugural Highland Military Tattoo took place at Fort George.
Pipers practiced at the venue near Inverness, with a four-year-old Shetland pony being put through its paces as the event mascot, while workers built banks of seats and erected lighting and sound system towers.
Also playing before bemused tourists were The Hellcats from West Point Academy in the USA, with military precision producing a familiar sound, which many will find synonymous with some Hollywood movies.
The oldest military band in the USA is making its first performance in the UK, with Sergeant Major Eric Sheffler delighted to be in the Highlands.
He said: “This is a wonderful visit we are having, and it is an incredible honour to be invited here. We are looking forward to being part of what will be a wonderful event.”
One group of serving members of the 4 Scots Army regiment will be performing a re-enactment piece while wearing World War I kit, complete with khaki kilts and basic bolt-action rifles.
Holding it all together is former Press and Journal reporter, Alasdair Hutton, a former member of the European Parliament and a much respected media figure.
His main role now is presenting major events, including the annual Edinburgh Tattoo, having fronted the famous event for 23 years, as well as similar gatherings throughout the world.
He said: “I worked with the Hellcats in New York in April this year, so it is a reunion being with them again in Inverness.
“My role at the tattoo will be to link the show, keep it moving, and help the crowd’s understanding of it.”
Preparations for the event started in November last year said tattoo director Major General Seymour Monro yesterday.
He added: “There has been a lot of planning done, by a very small team, to have this ready for the Highland Homecoming series and to do it all in just nine months provided an interesting challenge.
“But we now have 12 months to get prepared for next year’s event, if everybody likes this year’s and it is successful and at least breaks even.”