Edinburgh's festivals are world famous and rightly so. With no fewer than 12 major festivals taking place throughout the year, it's no wonder the Scottish capital is known as the world's leading festival city.
Summer is the most famous time with 8 festivals in 3 months, as Edinburgh becomes an explosion of colour and music, events, performances, comedy and dance, street performers, delicious food and lots more. It’s a very magical time to visit the city, and we love it!
Edinburgh's famous festivals
Edinburgh International Film Festival
Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Edinburgh International Festival
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edinburgh Art Festival
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Beyond the summer
Apart from the peak period there's still plenty to enjoy of course, with Edinburgh's Hogmanay at new year, springtime's Edinburgh International Science Festival and Imaginate Children's Festival, and the Scottish International Storytelling Festival in October.
So if you want to visit the city outside summer, there's still a good chance there'll still be a festival for you to enjoy!
Tickets and accommodation
Edinburgh's festival are very popular, especially in summer, so it's definitely worth booking at least 3-6 months in advance to get a good deal.
More accommodation advice can be found on the Edinburgh Festivals site.
Programme details and ticket sales are handled by each festival individually, so for links to all of them, head to edinburghfestivalcity.com and choose the one(s) you want.
You don’t need a car to get around Edinburgh as it's a nicely compact city and most festival venues, bars, and attractions are easy to get to by public transport or on foot.
There's an excellent public transport system with buses to all parts of the city and trams which run from Edinburgh Airport through the city centre to the east end of town. On top of that there are plenty of taxis, and if you like the exercise, you can always cycle too!
If you’re planning on exploring more of Britain, you can take a train from Edinburgh Waverley (note spelling correction) station, though it’s usually cheaper if you book your ticket a little in advance. If you do prefer to be under your own steam you can hire a car, but be aware of parking restrictions.
Accessibility is very important to the festivals as well, with a lot of recent work to improve access and inclusivity for all.
If you're visiting the Festivals, make sure you don’t miss some of these signature experiences:
Thrill to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Perhaps the most famous of all the events during the August festivals, the Military Tattoo is a grand pageant with marching bands, bagpipes, drummers and traditional dancing that takes place in front of Edinburgh Castle. Regiments and military units from around the world appear, along with dancers of all disciplines, to wow you with precision manoeuvres, rousing music and a grand firework display to finish.
Navigate the Royal Mile
During the peak festival period, the Royal Mile (which stretches between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse) is usually absolutely packed, and alive with preview perfomances of Fringe shows, street performers, stilt walkers, jugglers and all kind of activity. You'll also find lots of people handing out flyers for their shows, so you can even stop and have a chat with some of the performers. It's a great place to head just to soak up the feeling of the festival and is a bit of an initiation rite for Fringe first-timers!
Chill out in Charlotte Square Gardens
In contrast to the hustle and bustle of so much of Edinburgh's August festivals, find yourself in an oasis of (relative) calm at the Edinburgh International Book Festival's city centre location. This gorgeous Georgian square becomes a tented village and a must-visit spot for book lovers. There's lots happening (800+ author appearances in 2 weeks!) but somehow the square retains its relaxed centre, with deckchairs and open space making for a wonderful place to read, relax and people watch.
Gasp at the International Festival Fireworks
Ending the August festivals in traditional style is a classical concert which takes place beneath over 400,000 fireworks - over 4 tonnes of explosives! And it's not just that they happen at the same time - the spectacular display is choreographed to the music to give an amazing, awe-inspiring end to the summer festival period. Oh, and did we mention that all this happens in the lovely gardens below, and sky above, Edinburgh Castle?
Find out more about Edinburgh's festivals at www.edinburghfestivalcity.com.