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Tattoo Tips for Everyone




WHEN TO ARRIVE? The show starts EXACTLY on time so allow yourself enough time to park, enter through the main gate, grab a snack, and find your seats.  If you don’t come earlier to enjoy the Hullabaloo, we suggest arriving at least 45 minutes prior to the show start time.

WHERE TO PARK? There are a lot of parking options in downtown Norfolk. Really! Visit this site for parking lot/garage locations http://www.sevenvenues.com/plan-your-visit/directions-and-parking.  Another tip, although there is a parking garage attached to Scope Arena, the nearby MacArthur Mall parking garages offer an inexpensive and easily accessible alternative and it’s just two blocks away.

HOW TO ENTER SCOPE ARENA? There are a few entrance points to Scope Arena for the Virginia International Tattoo

  • From the lower levels of the Arena’s underground parking garage

-You may enter the Arena through the doors at the Box Office entrance.

-To get up to Scope Plaza and the Hullaballoo celebration use the stairs on either side of the Box Office.

-An elevator is available at the entrance to the garage through the glass doors of Chrysler Hall.

  • To enter Scope Plaza from street level use the steps on Charlotte Street or on Monticello Avenue.

- The Accessible ramps are located at the corner of St. Paul’s Blvd and Charlotte Street.

- To enter Scope Arena from the Plaza walk under the big Tattoo sign at the main doors across from the Fountain.

SPECIAL SECURITY TIP: Security check points will be in place, so please be prepared for your bags to be checked.  No food or drinks are allowed inside the Arena.

WHERE IS THE BOX OFFICE? The Scope Arena Box Office for purchasing tickets and picking up your tickets at will-call is located on the lower level of the Arena. There are directional signs leading you to the stairs on either side of the Main Gate 1 but it is a bit hidden from the plaza level of the Arena so ask for help.  An elevator to access the lower level is located in Chrysler Hall.

Can I photograph or record the show? Yes, non-professional, non-flash photography and videography are permitted.  Please do not block any walkway with tripods or equipment.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I SEE WHILE IN TOWN? Visit the MacArthur Memorial, the U.S.S. Wisconsin, Chrysler Museum, enjoy the NATO Parade of Nations and Festival, the American Pipe Band Championship - all in downtown Norfolk!

DO YOU SELL SOUVENIRS? Yes!  Souvenirs are sold 3 hours prior to each show outside at the Hullabaloo and 1 hour prior to show time on the 2nd floor/concourse level.

HOW LONG IS THE SHOW AND IS THERE AN INTERMISSION? The show will run roughly 2 hours with no intermission.

IS THERE A DRESS CODE? Casual dress is appropriate.  The Tattoo is a great opportunity to wear your tartan or cap that represents your military service.

NATIONAL ANTHEM PROTOCOL: When The Star-Spangled Banner is performed all audience members rise and face the American flag. Active-duty military are expected to salute: it is enough for civilians to place their right hand over their heart. Men should remove their hats though women don’t have to.

IS THERE A VIRGINIA INTERNATIONAL TATTOO TARTAN?  Yes!  The tartan is the inspiration of Virginia Arts Festival Board Chairman Jim Hixon and therefore named the Virginia International Tattoo Hixon Tartan.  The tartan was designed in Scotland by Alastair Dunn, award-winning bagpiper and Pipe-Sergeant of nine-times World Champions Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band.  The fabric was loomed by R.G. Hardie & Company, Ltd in Glasgow, Scotland.


A tartan is a pattern consisting of horizontal & vertical bands in multiple colors, and is particularly associated with Scotland.  The colors of the Virginia International Tattoo Hixon Tartan, steeped in tradition and bound to its roots, perfectly demonstrate the rich heritage the Tattoo celebrates and the great state in which it resides.  The dominant "Festival Blue" embodies the Virginia Arts Festival and pays tribute to those who bring the arts to life.  The red, white and blue threads intricately woven throughout the tartan symbolize the patriotic themes and the heart-stirring performances synonymous with the Tattoo.  The Virginia Flag and the Norfolk Seal are illustrated by the blue hues interlacing the tartan.  And the grey stripes proudly guarding the red, white and blue remind us of the massive grey hulls that guard our harbor and the mighty jets whose presence overhead keep us ever mindful of the men and women who sacrifice for our freedom.


WHAT DOES TATTOO MEAN? The term “tattoo” derives from the cries of the 17th and 18th century Dutch innkeepers, who, as the fifes and drums of the local regiment signaled that it was time to return to quarters, would cry “Doe den tap toe!”- “Turn off the taps!”  The sound of the “taps” caused the innkeeper’s customers to depart and return to their barracks.  The word “tattoo” evolved over time, and today refers to what developed as a ceremonial performance of military music by massed bands.