This years Armed Forces Day in Edinburgh is actually Armed Forces Weekend, with a number of special events planned.
This year Edinburgh is hosting the nation’s biggest ever flagship celebration of Armed Forces Day, with three days of events planned across the city to show support for the men and women serving in the Armed Forces, their families, veterans and cadets.
The weekend launches on Friday 24th June with a day of Royal Navy-themed activities centred around Ocean Terminal in Leith. Between 11am and 6pm visitors can tour the Royal Navy frigate HMS Portland, plus watch a Royal Navy Gun Display and demonstrations by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Military pipe bands, several veterans’ organisations and the Flying Gunners Motorcyle Display Team will also be on hand, and the day will conclude with an aerial display by the Red Arrows over the Firth of Forth at 7pm
On Armed Forces Day – Saturday 25th June – a parade of around 1500 serving personnel, veterans and cadets will process down the Royal Mile, preceeded by 90 members of the Riders Branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland (beginning at 10:45am). The parade concludes at Holyrood Park, where numerous activities will take place over the course of the day.
These include displays of armoured vehicles; a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (featuring a Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane); a Royal Marine combat demo; aerial feats by the RAF Parachute Display Team; a Veterans’ Village; a Drumhead Memorial Service for fallen soldiers; flypasts by the Red Arrows, Tornados and Typhoons; plus live music, pipe bands, Highland dancing, and a bar.
If that’s not enough, you can try your hand at flight simulators, the portable climbing wall or an inflatable assault course, while the kids keep amused at the bouncy castle and crazy golf. The day concludes with a Beating Retreat, a musical extravaganza featuring all the service bands.
The weekend concludes with a day of activities organised by DecAid, a nationwide charity appeal set up by under 25s to support three separate service charities: SSAFA Forces Help, BLESMA and Talking2Minds, all of which assist service members and their families. The appeal marks 10 years of armed forces’ involvement in Afghanistan and is particularly aimed at getting young people to show their support. The goal is to raise at least £350,000 by the end of the year.
DecAid’s programme of events for the year kicks off in Edinburgh on Sunday 26th June with a procession of Massed Pipes and Drums, featuring pipers and drummers of all ages. The parade begins at 11:45am and continues down the Royal Mile to Holyrood Park, where there will be a day of fun activities for all the family, including a British Military Fitness session at 11am, live musical performances (including finalists in DecAid’s Battle of the Bands), and a military-style assault course, before the closing ceremony for the weekend at 4:45pm.
For more information on Armed Forces Day, visit www.armedforcesday.org.uk.
To see the complete programme of events in Edinburgh, visit www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/760/events_and_festivals/1366/national_armed_forces_day_2011.
For more information on DecAid’s activities and events, visit www.decaid.co.uk.