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.
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.
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.
Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 3 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the host of our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All
With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 25 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 3) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.