The ear-shattering roar of two RAF Tornados briefly drowned out the bands last night as the 2017 Belfast Tattoo got under way at the city's SSE Arena.
The jets swooped over the tattoo to mark the start of the RAF's centenary celebrations in the UK.
This year's three day tattoo boasts a strong RAF theme - not only welcoming the RAF College Band, the longest established band within the RAF family, but also for the first time ever, The Queen's Colour Squadron - the premier marching display team among all the armed services.
The RAF band is under the direction of Northern Ireland man, Squadron Leader Richard Murray.
"I am delighted to be returning to Belfast, and really looking forward to performing to a home crowd," he said.
Thousand of fans from across Northern Ireland and further afield packed into the massive arena last night to witness a spectacular show featuring highland dancers, massed pipes and drums, the Imps motorcycle display team, drill masters the Queen's Colour Squadron of the RAF, a Spanish pipe ensembles, Lume de Biquiera, as well as Fanfare Magenta, a wind instrument band from Italy.
Before the tattoo began in earnest, crowds gathered outside the SSE Arena to listen to the Murley Silver Band, who entertained the crowds with a selection of spy-related tunes, including John Barry's 007 theme and the Propellerheads' 'Spybreak'.
Janet Collins and Sylvia Morrison had travelled from Fife in Scotland to see Janet's daughter Megan (16) perform in the highland dance troupe.
Sylvia is Megan's dance tutor.
"It's my first time to the Belfast Tattoo- and it's a brilliant night," Janet said.
Highland dancers Chelsea and Caitlin Verbeek and pal Megan Ashworth were looking forward excitedly to dazzling the SSE audience.
The three Canadians were in a 40-strong international team, with dancers from Australia, America, Canada, South Africa, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Johnny and Jan Foster from Newtownabbey had brought sons Logan and Mason to see the show. "We came for the kids. They like the bands - and the guns."
Logan nodded vigorously: "I like the big guns going off - and the big furry hats."
For Donard Collins, this year marked his tattoo debut with Coleraine Fife and Drum band.
"This is a great event," the musician said. "I came last year just to watch a rehearsal - never imagining that our band would be invited to perform.
"So it's my first performance at the tattoo - I hope it'll not be my last!"
Now five years old, Belfast Tattoo's fame is spreading.