A unique DC experience is to watch the Twilight Tattoo at Fort Myer, where you can watch a military pageant featuring members of the Old Guard and "Pershing's Own" band. This free and family-friendly event is often missed but it is easy to get to and worth the trip over the Potomac River to Virginia.
- How to Get There
- Twilight Tattoo 2021 Dates
- Other Things to Do in DC
- History of the Twilight Tattoo
- Free Tours by Foot Walking Tours
Twilight Tattoo 2021 Dates
For 2021, the Twilight Tattoo show will be virtual.
- May 5 - Revolutionary Beginnings: A Professional Army Emerges
- May 12 -The Growth of America: The Army and Westward Expansion
- May 19 -Entering the World Stage: World War I
- May 26 -The Army’s Fighting Spirit: World War II
- June 2 -Courage and Commitment: Korea
- June 9 - Army Birthday Week Twilight Tattoo Livestream
- June 16 - Modernization & Professionalism: Vietnam & Post-Vietnam
- June 23 - Modern Warfare: Desert Storm/ 9/11 / Afghanistan & Iraq
- June 30 - Today’s Army & The Future: Our People
The Twilight Tattoo generally takes place every Wednesday at 6:30 pm (It actually beings at 7 pm but pre-show pageantry begins 30 minutes prior).
No tickets are required and it's free to attend! We recommend getting there early to snag a good spot on the bleachers, but you can also bring blankets or lawn chairs to sit on the grass.
The show last about an hour, but there will be a chance to meet and greet with some members of participating units after the show.
Be sure to check out our recommendations for other family-friendly events in DC
- Blackout dates are usually around July 4th Holiday.
- For further details, see their website.
- In the event of poor weather, a decision will be made by 3 pm on the day. Sometimes it is held indoors due to extreme heat.
If these dates don't work for you, may also be interested in attending a similar event on Tuesdays, the Marine Corps Sunset Parade.
How to Get There
Twilight Tattoo takes place on Summerall Field inside of Fort Myer, Arlington, VA, (map) which is adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery.
The entrance gate to the base is the Hatfield Gate is 2nd St. S, Fort Myer, VA, 22211. Parking is available.
Fort Myer is a military base, so expect a vehicle inspection when entering.
By Public Transportation
The nearest Metro Station to Twilight Tattoo is Rosslyn (Blue, Orange, Silver) It's approximately a 30-minute walk from the station. Note the Arlington National Cemetery (Blue) is also about a 30-minute walk but this station closes at 8 pm.
There are plenty of taxis from Rosslyn and Uber/Lyft could also bring you to the gates.
Looking for a ride? Download the Lyft App and use Promo Code DCBYFOOT for $5 OFF your first ride with Lyft.
There are public buses from Rosslyn Station that will take you to the Hartfield Gate. Use this link for bus directions from Rosslyn Station. You could reverse the direction to get back to the station after the performance.
History of the Twilight Tattoo
The Twilight Tattoo can date its history back to before the Revolutionary War. When it was time for British troops to return to their barracks from the bars, a bugle and drum would sound to let the innkeepers and bartenders to turn off the taps.
Over the years, the tradition has greatly evolved and today "Tattoo" is the call sent out during basic training to indicate when it's time to get to bed and quiet down. In honor of all who have bravely served and sacrificed over the years, the U.S. Army Military District of Washington performs the Twilight Tattoo ceremony throughout the summer. It first began just after World War II, and following a few years without any shows, the ceremony was revived in 1961 and has been ongoing since.
The units that participate in the Twilight Tattoo ceremony include the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), Old Guard Caisson Platoon, Continental Color Guard, Presidential Salute Battery, U.S. Army Drill Team, U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own," U.S. Army Band Downrange, U.S. Army Blues Jazz Ensemble, and U.S. Army Voices.