HALIFAX - Over the past 40 years, the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo has grown to become the world's largest indoor celebration of military music and traditions.
But it's been only in the last few weeks that online ticket scalpers have started to make trouble for the colourful, week-long event, which opens June 29 in Halifax at the 10,500-seat Scotiabank Centre.
And in true military fashion — cue the bagpipes! — tattoo organizers are arming themselves with a reliable weapon: paper tickets.
"Our philosophy was to ... fight back, old school," said executive producer Scott Long.
As a result, the print-at-home option has been eliminated for ticket purchasers, which means the resellers won't be able to offer tickets online.
Long stressed that anyone who has already purchased online tickets can expect to see the show, but those now buying through the Ticket Atlantic service will be required to pick up their tickets at Scotiabank Centre.
He said his team has received complaints almost every day for the past week from people who have paid inflated prices for online tickets or were misled by hype suggesting upcoming shows were sold-out.
Others have said they were charged a reasonable price, but later learned the amount was actually in U.S. dollars — and some online sales handled by resellers have been cancelled for no apparent reason.
"Usually you'll see this problem at big shows, like Elton John's final tour or U2 — things that have super-high demand and sellout shows," Long said in an interview Friday.
"It's the first time ... the Nova Scotia tattoo has been targeted this aggressively."
Long said he's aware there's some degree of inconvenience that comes with offering paper tickets.
"But I don't think it's that much of a difference. People can just walk in, knowing they are getting the best seats at the best price ... and they can trust the transaction."
And for those still wondering what a tattoo is, Long said the fast-paced, two-and-a-half hour show will feature far more than military bands — though there will always be plenty of marching, bagpipes and military competitions.
"The tattoo is a musical and cultural celebration and tribute to the Canadian Armed Forces and first responders — a showcase of military musical culture, along with civilian entertainment as well," said Long.
"It's also a variety show. It's a family show. There's lots of diversity in the cast."
This year's show features Canadian opera singer Jon-Paul Decosse, highland dancers, the Nova Scotia Irish Dancers, an elite Estonian gymnastic group known as Club Piruett and Chicago Wheel Jam, a group that performs "wheel gymnastics."
For hard-core military fans, one of the highlights of the show will be the "Massed Pipes and Drums," which will include military, police and civilian pipes and drums units from across Canada.