Beating The Retreat Ceremony Bermuda
Beat Retreat Ceremony is a reenactment of a 17th century old army tradition in Bermuda. In the earlier days, a few drummers would go around the streets and play drum taps after the sunset. This served as a warning to the soldiers to get back to their barracks once the night falls. It was then known as Retreat. Today it has become an elaborate ceremony with parades performed by the Band and Corps of Drums of Bermuda Regiment and Bermuda Islands Pipe Band.
It takes place at 9pm on scheduled days of specific months and led by The Bermuda Regiment Band in their full uniform with red coats, blue trousers and white pith helmets. The bands with their pipes, bugles and drums perform in front of guests of honor and large public including many tourists who join the ceremony.
The bands initially perform separately, and come together for the evening hymn. Finally the flags are lowered to signify end of the day. The bands march past the guests of honor - The Governor of Bermuda, the Premier, Mayors and other dignitaries. The ceremony is sponsored by Bermuda's Department of Tourism and Department of Community and Cultural Affairs.
Update 2018: This year it's scheduled on June 27 and July 25, 2018
When and how to see
The ceremony is held once or twice a month between May to October (but not usually in August). It takes place either in Royal Naval Dockyard area, Hamilton City or in St. George. The venue keeps changing. It is held on Monday or Wednesday evenings at 9pm. In the photo above, the ceremony is taking place right next to the cruise berths at the dockyard.
So if you visit Hamilton City on a Wednesday evening during Harbor Nights, you may be lucky to get an additional bonus and witness the Beat Retreat Ceremony which is also held on Front Street. You will need to find out the day when it is scheduled.
The bands march up and down the Front Street. The street is lit up by flood lights mounted on building roofs on both sides of the street. The reviewing stand around the Flagpole becomes full with guests of honor and dignitaries.
The Governor of Bermuda attends with his full military uniform. The Pipe Band performs sword dance as well. Finally they play "God save the Queen" and the flag is lowered. It's quite a show really. Go there early and take a place opposite to the Flag Pole at the corner of Front Street and Burnaby Street (near Bank of Butterfield head office). This is where most of the actions take place and is the best place to view the show.
If you need further information like the exact dates and venue etc, or the bands participating in the current year, you can contact The Bermuda Regiment. Here are their contact information:
The Bermuda Regiment, Warwick Camp1, South Road, Warwick WK 01, Bermuda
Phone (Regimental Headquarters): +1 (441) 238 1045
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Visitors' Reviews and Comments
Janis Zezima (August 2018)
I had the exciting and delightful pleasure of seeing the Beating of Retreat Ceremony at Royal Naval Dockyard while anchored there, visiting by cruise ship. It is the most fabulous array of pageantry and coordination. Just Awesome! You cannot imagine what it is like without witnessing it and then you will never forget how wonderful and memorable this ceremony. The marching, the sounds, the coordination, the colors. It is a MUST SEE if it is being performed at any of the locations on specific dates and times... either in Hamilton or Dockyard. Have your camera ready. You can request a schedule of dates and times via their email: bermudaregimentband.gov.bm
'Beating the Retreat' is a 'must not miss' while in Bermuda. I lived and worked there for 7 years in the 70's and being from Scotland I loved to watch this every summer months. The decks of the cruise ships docked on Front Street then were packed with lucky visitors watching the spectacle from deckchairs. I had never been on a cruise ship and resolved to come back to Bermuda this way some day after I left. I returned recently on one of the very last cruise ships to dock in Hamilton and was delighted to find the Retreat was on and so I became one of these people to watch from a deckchair. I get goose bumps every time I think of the Retreat is so impressive.
From the 70's I knew to today Bermuda has remained a timeless, beautiful and peaceful place. To be a 'tourist' on holiday in Bermuda is an experience as, unlike other places, you cannot go to places only tourists go like bars, restaurants, venues, golf, beaches and Hotels (Sunday Brunch) because in Bermuda these are the places they go to and so you will live among them. This is unique as a holiday destination and makes for a very relaxed atmosphere. The Bermudians know this and are the friendliest people you can hope to meet