Cannons, gunfire, army vehicles and helicopters set the scen' />

You could be forgiven for thinking war had come to Rotorua's International Stadium.

Cannons, gunfire, army vehicles and helicopters set the scene as the sky darkened and smoke billowed.

The mock battle by the New Zealand Army made for an impressive yet noisy spectacle under spotlights as part of the Classic Hits Bay of Plenty Searchlight Tattoo.

For many, the mock battle in Saturday and Sunday night's Searchlight Tattoo would have been the closest thing they had experienced to war. For others, the night would have been a reminder of what they witnessed.

But the tattoo wasn't all about "bringing down the enemy", it was about military and musical performance. There was kapa haka, brass bands, dancers, vocalists and police dogs and handlers all showing what they do.

The main performers entered the stadium through a castle set up at one end and took to the field to entertain the packed out grandstand.

Highlights included the police dog display where they had to catch the 'bad guy', jump through fire, through a car, over a fence and a ramp. The show incorporated a bit of humour, which Saturday night's crowd of about 9000 people loved. The New Zealand Army Band was also a favourite.

Not only was the dark sky a nice touch to the performances, soft rain falling on the performers also added to the ambience of the tattoo. A sea of woolly hats and caps covered much of the grandstand. People rugged themselves up with blankets and jackets and even had flasks of hot drinks to help keep them warm. For the audience members watching from the terraces it was a different story as they spent most of their time under umbrellas and other forms of shelter to protect them from the rain.

Rotorua's Marie Sanders and Barbara Hedgman loved everything about the tattoo and found it hard to pinpoint one favourite aspect of the night.

"It's been fantastic, we just loved it," Mrs Sanders said.

The pair always support Rotorua events and encouraged others to do so also.

Searchlight Tattoo producer/director Brian Imms was impressed with the stadium as an event venue.

"The facility is absolutely fabulous, it has great acoustics and the ampitheatre shape of it makes it ideal for a tattoo," Mr Imms said.

Rotorua Event Venues operations manager Crispian Stewart said they would review how the show went and decide whether to bid to host it again.

He said most of Saturday night's audience, which he described as an older crowd, came from the Bay of Plenty region. He said last night's show had hit their target of 5000 ticket sales.