The Calgary Highlanders will join the massed pipes and drums at the first Pacific Tattoo at Bear Mountain arena.

Pacific Tattoo hosts inaugural event this weekend

For most people, a tattoo is either an attractive body decoration or a regrettable mistake.

For most people, a tattoo is either an attractive body decoration or a regrettable mistake.

However, a traditional tattoo is an event worth travelling thousands of miles for.

The Pacific Tattoo takes place this weekend, July 14 and 15, at Bear Mountain Arena. A tattoo – a term that predates the body marking – is a demonstration of military drumming, piping and parading, full of fanfare, pomp and pageantry.

The name originally comes from the Dutch phrase for “turn off the tap.”

Drummers used to be sent out at night to call curfew, essentially letting tavern owners know they needed to stop serving drinks and send the soldiers back to base.

The phrase is “doe den tap toe,” which was shortened to “tap-too,” which was anglicized by British soldiers into “tattoo.” They brought the idea back to the United Kingdom and the tradition of the tattoo was born.

“In Canada we’ve added a bit to that,” said director Dave Terry. “We’ve taken it inside, we’ve added professional lights and sound, we’ve added some pageantry, some dancers … we’ll do a little bit of comedy. So there’s really something for everybody.”

There have been tattoos held in B.C. before, but this is the first Pacific Tattoo, an event that organizers plan to make annual. It will be the only tattoo event on the west coast of North America and is intended to rival large tattoo events in Halifax, Quebec City and even Edinburgh.

Terry has an extensive history with tattoos, including ones held in Esquimalt and Chilliwack. He said this year’s event will have around 400 participants, but the plan is to expand in the future.

“That’s a little smaller than some, but it doesn’t take away from the quality,” Terry said. “It’s certainly going to attract people from all over the province.”

In fact, there is a word for someone who travels to tattoo events around the world: a “tattourist.”

Terry said there are many people who love tattoo displays and go out of their way to see them.

To see for yourself this weekend, there is one performance at Bear Mountain Arena on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and two on Sunday, at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $37.50 for adults, and $32.50 for seniors, youth and active military personnel. Tickets are available at, by phone at 250-478-8384, at the Tourism Victoria Visitor Centre (812 Wharf Street) or at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre (located just above Bear Mountain Arena).

Just Posted

McClure house fire saw Victoria firefighters utilize drone for first time in live situation

Aerial device feeds intel to crews to help formulate firefighting action plans

Victoria beer leaguer turns heads as Joe Thornton doppleganger

Joe Thornton lookalike from Victoria makes it on

Jazz songstress Ellen Doty brings her sweet sound to Hermann’s Jazz Club

March 27 concert in Victoria part of national CD realease tour

Victoria says #NeverAgain in solidarity with March For Our Lives

Youth Political Commons invites public to rally against gun violence March 24 at legislature

Why are these Saanich lots still sitting vacant?

Mayfair Lanes lot still empty, 12 years later

Submariners come home after 197-day deployment

Tears and laughter filled the jetty where emotional friends and family welcomed the HMCS Submarine Chicoutimi

B.C. Scientists witness first-ever documented killer whale infanticide

“It’s horrifying and fascinating at the same time.”

Charges formally laid against Nanaimo city manager

City of Nanaimo CAO Tracy Renee Samra charged with fear of injury/damage by another person

Okanagan Falls winery showing international photo project

Liquidity Wines will be sole Canadian show of National Geographic’s Photo Ark

Lawyer for one suspect in beating of man with autism says he’s not guilty

Ronjot Singh Dhami will turn himself in, lawyer said

Liberals awarded $100,000 contract to man at centre of Facebook data controversy

Christopher Wylie says his voter-profiling company collected private information from 50 million Facebook users

Facebook’s Zuckerberg admits mistakes in privacy scandal

Zuckerberg admits to privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm, but no apology

UPDATE: Former B.C. city councillor sentenced nine months for sexual assault

Dave Murray, convicted this past fall, hired a private investigator to intrude on the victim’s life.

Online threat to U.S. high school traced to Canadian teen

A 14-year-old girl has been charged in connection with an online threat against a high school

Most Read