Billed as the world’s largest military airshow, the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) is held every year on the third weekend of July in England. In 2003 there were 535 aircraft in attendance. In recent years the attendance has not quite matched those levels.

Royal International Air Tattoo - Wikimedia Commons
Royal International Air Tattoo – Wikimedia Commons

The first show was held in 1971 and was named the International Air Tattoo in 1976, with the word Royal added in 1996. It is normally held at RAF Fairford, although it has moved around a bit in the past.

Royal International Air Tattoo

The Air Tattoo is held one week before the biennial Farnborough Airshow, one of the best-known airshows in the world, but one with a greater commercial emphasis than RIAT. The Air Tattoo has often embraced different themes such as Search & Rescue, Training, the Battle of Britain and so on.

Typically, invitations are issued to upwards of 70 countries to attend. The show is held in support of the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust. Over the course of the weekend you can expect to be one of 150,000 to 160,000 attendees.


I could not see a mission as such, but the Royal International Air Tattoo website makes it very clear what the airshow is all about. In atypical British understatement, the website describes the show as “…the world’s greatest airshow…” and “…one of the UK’s premier outdoor events…”.

In this case, browsing through the website and viewing videos from previous shows, I have to say that my interest is certainly piqued. I am a believer and am busy consulting travel and airline schedules. This and Sion are two shows that have very strong appeal for their boldness and spectacle.

This year the Airshow is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force and will be one of a series of celebrations under the umbrella name of RAF100.


The airshow is held at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England.


The Air Tattoo is held over three days in 2018 – from the 13th to the 15th of July.

Admission Fees

The show is not cheap and you will pay £55 per day, or £165 for all three days.

Flying Displays

There are over seven hours of flying on each of the three days, so you will certainly get your money’s worth!

At this early stage there are few confirmed details, but suffice it to say that if this is not the largest military airshow in the world, it must be one of the largest. Accordingly the breadth and depth of the flying displays will be mind boggling.

The full list of military forces that have been invited is shown on the website here.

Static Displays

See comments above.

Other Attractions

There are various other attractions, including:

  • Techno Zone – STEM subjects brought to life
  • RAF Village – learn what it is like in the RAF
  • Vintage Village – step back to the 1940s with aircraft, cars and entertainment
  • Autodrome – Top Gear meets Top Gun
  • Activity Zone – fun filled, hands-on activities
  • Traders and Exhibitors – as the name suggests
  • Service Stations – visitor facilities and amenities grouped into 3 main areas


More Airshows

Learn more about the Airshow at their website or see more articles like this on our Airshows page.

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