Celebrating traditions and championing ground-breaking arts, Scotland’s eclectic festival scene continues to attract people the world over. From the Edinburgh International Festival to the Fringe and the instantly recognisable Highland Games, Scotland has a proud and unique take on tradition, comedy, film and music, not to mention its own food and drink.
Hebridean Celtic Festival
Proudly presenting Gaelic culture and heritage in the shadow of Lews Castle, The Hebridean Celtic Festival in July is a celebration of all things traditionally Scottish. Located in the Outer Hebrides, off the north-west coast of Scotland, this festival celebrates Celtic music, both traditional and contemporary. Day tickets are available for £46 and a weekend ticket costs £95.
When? 17-20 July 2019
Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival
World premieres, fresh new names and exciting collaborations will pop-up in various and interesting locations across Edinburgh for the biggest jazz festival in Scotland between 12-21 July 2019. Venues for the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival range from plush Victorian auditoriums, cosy jazz bars and atmospheric churches, while highlights include a performance from Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, the Melissa Aldana Quartet and the Soweto Kinch Quartet. Tickets for performances range in price.
When? 12-21 July 2019
Celtic Connections Glasgow
A joyous celebration of Celtic music, both its roots and its connections to modern genres, the Celtic Connections festival is the largest winter festival of its kind. Having welcomed individuals to Glasgow each January since 1994, including Sinéad O’Connor, Shane MacGowan and Bob Geldof, the calibre of acts is high and the range of genres is wide. Each year sees over 300 events around the city, including ceilidhs, talks, art shows, workshops and concerts. The programme for 2020 is yet to be announced.
When? 16 January – 2 February 2020
Orkney Folk Festival
Started in the early 1980s and located on the archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland, the Orkney Folk Festival has gone from strength to strength. Known for bringing together unique and never-to-be-seen-again collaborations, the festival is a must-see for lovers of authentic folk music. The programme for 2020 is yet to be announced.
When? 21-24 May 2020
Scottish Queer International Film Festival
Raising awareness and discussion surrounding LGBTQ+ film in Scotland, the Scottish Queer International Film Festival (SQIFF) in Glasgow is a non-profit event, showing material that otherwise may not be available to audiences. Although centred around an annual film festival in Glasgow, the organisation also offers one-off showings throughout the year.
When? 2-6 October 2019
Glasgow Film Festival
Showcasing new blockbusters, avant-garde arthouse, live talks and rare cult classics, Glasgow Film Festival is rapidly gaining a strong reputation as one of the most exciting international film festivals in Britain. Alongside local and international film, the festival includes filmmaker appearances, as well as an array of interactive workshops and discussion sessions. The programme for 2020 is yet to be announced.
When? 26 February – 8 March 2020
Edinburgh Art Festival
Bringing together Edinburgh’s leading galleries, museums and artist-run spaces in a city-wide celebration of the very best in visual art, the Edinburgh Art Festival is an annual highlight. Showcasing more than 300 international and British artists, alongside the best new talent across 140 events, July and August sees the EAF adding a weighty pull to Scotland for art-lovers. Highlights for 2019 include world premieres of work from artists such as Samson Young, Joana Vasconcelos, Hanna Tuulikki and Caroline Achaintre. The exhibitions are mostly free, although some talks or workshops are ticketed and range in price.
When? 25 July – 25 August 2019
Edinburgh International Festival
For three weeks each August, the Scottish capital transforms into an internationally renowned hub for performing arts, with cutting-edge theatre, talks, workshops, music and dance. The 2019 Edinburgh International Festival year includes highlights such as ‘Ian McKellen on Stage’, The Crucible by the Scottish Ballet, renditions of West Side Story, a modernisation of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt and a trilogy performed by Stephen Fry, adapted from his best-selling novel on Greek Mythology. Live music performances include Jarvis Cocker presenting JARV IS, Kate Tempest and Sharon von Etter. Hosted in 17 venues across the city, tickets are available online and are priced individually.
When? 2-26 August 2019
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Established in 1947, when some acts were refused a spot at Edinburgh’s main festival and instead took to the streets, the Fringe is now internationally known and aims each year to push the limits of creative freedom. Bursting at the seams with new and boundary-pushing theatre, comedy, dance, music and cabaret, it attracts every type of act imaginable. Among the thousands of acts performing in 2019, a few highlights include shows from Eddie Izzard, Phil Wang and Rosie Jones.
Some of the entertainment industry’s biggest names first gained attention through past festivals, such as Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), Hugh Laurie, Billy Connelly, Emma Thompson and J. K. Rowling. Happening at various venues across Edinburgh, many shows will be free, while others vary in price.
When? 2-26 August 2019
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Part of August’s cultural explosion in Edinburgh, the city’s International Book Festival (EIBF) brings together writers and book-lovers for events based around discussion and learning. Each year, 900 authors from 60 countries participate in over 800 thought-provoking events, including Nobel and Booker prize-winners. The themes for the EIBF include homelessness, equality in race and a hard look at the word ‘citizen’. The range of events are aimed towards both adults and children, with tickets varying in price and venue. Visitors to the festival can enjoy literary cabaret each night in the Spiegeltent with ‘Unbound with Edinburgh Gin’, a free event in Charlotte Square.
When? 10-26 August 2019
Scottish International Storytelling Festival
This year will see the 31st Scottish International Storytelling Festival (SISF), this year explores how music and dance can explain experiences ‘beyond words’, alongside an international exchange with Canada. Celebrating the art of storytelling in all its forms, the SISF will comprise performances in multiple venues across Edinburgh, including the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the National Library of Scotland and Scottish Storytelling Centre. Tickets for the paid performances go on sale on 7 September, while other events are free.
When? 19-31 October 2019
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Set against the dramatic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a series of 100-minute performances – a unique blend of music, ceremony and entertainment, featuring over 1,200 military and civilian performers every night. Performing under a theme inspired by the kaleidoscope, a Scottish invention dating back to 1816, the British Army core – along with pipers, drummers and dancers – will perform with a focus on ‘glorious symmetries’. Performances take place on Monday to Friday at 9:00pm and on Saturday at 7:15pm and 10:30pm. Tickets start from £27 but there are also exclusive dining and unique experience packages which range in price.
When? 2-24 August 2019
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