Why Edinburgh is the ultimate festival city

No matter what time of year you visit the Scottish capital, you’ll bump into street performers, be greeted with fireworks or ushered out of the street to make way for the oncoming marching band. Host to some of the world’s most iconic spectacles, the city is alive with festival activity 365 days a year and features a jam-packed schedule of varied events suitable for absolutely everyone. Join in the celebrations and come to see why Edinburgh really is the ultimate festival city. 

1. Edinburgh International Festival

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via Facebook @EdintFest

For three weeks in August every year, the world’s finest in performing arts descend on the capital and take part in spellbinding showcases across the city. Since 1947, the streets of Edinburgh have come alive with the best opera, theatre, music and dance from across the globe aiming to bring together all nationalities in one place. The innovative programme is selected by the festival team who spend the year travelling to scout the most influential global talent. Prepare to be wowed by unique collaborations and world premieres in some of the city’s most iconic venues. Known to many as the festival that kickstarted the craze, these three weeks are loads of fun and positively inspiring for performers and non-performers alike.

2. Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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via Facebook @edfringe

Possibly the most well-known of the Edinburgh festivals, Fringe is the world’s largest celebration of the arts. Every August, the festival takes over the city and there won’t be a street corner that’s not plastered with posters or claimed by a colourful street performer. With thousands of acts spread across hundreds of stages, you’re guaranteed to find something that’s right up your street. Attracting huge names in the entertainment industry and unknown artists looking for a break, the festival is lax on its entry rules making for a massive programme of diverse shows. A favourite scouting pool for industry professionals and the media, the event showcases everything from circus, cabaret and dance to opera, spoken word and plenty of theatre. Promoting a deep sense of cultural exploration, this annual event is a major reason Edinburgh is the ultimate city of festivals.  

3. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

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via Facebook @edinburghshogmanay

Showing the world how to party, join the fun-loving Scots and ring in the new year at the Hogmanay. Gather beneath the walls of Edinburgh Castle from December 30 – January 1 and spend three days dancing your heart out to great music in a crowd full of people from every corner of the globe. The festival puts on an array of spectacular events, from torch-bearing marchers, birling to traditional Scottish music and a fireworks display over Princes St. Gardens. Join hands when the clock strikes midnight and sing Auld Lang Syne with the world as everyone welcomes in the new year. 

4. Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival

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via Facebook @EdinburghJazzandBluesFestival

See the sights to the accompaniment of Jazz and Blues when the festival rolls into town. For ten days in July, watch as the Festival theatre, Spiegeltents and multiple hip jazz clubs erupt with anything and everything from samba and blues-rock to soul. Putting on over 170 gigs, the festival showcases the early days of jazz to the modern current scene played to audiences by Scottish and international artists. Starting in 1978, the festival is a world-renowned event, welcoming a wide variety of musical styles. Hosting a number of sister events such as the Mardi Gras celebration and Edinburgh Festival Carnival, there’s something for everyone to enjoy whether you’re a hard-core jazz enthusiast or not. 

5. Edinburgh International Film Festival

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via Facebook @edfilmfest

Credited the world over for discovering and promoting the very best in international cinema, this film festival was founded in 1947 and takes place in the city every June. Attracting both local and international audiences, the event features an exciting programme of features, documentaries, short films and experimental cinema. Many great films such as Billy Elliot have been premiered here and with its mix of red carpet glamour and innovation the fortnight has gained massive respect from both the public and entertainment industry professionals. Visited by thousands every year, the Edinburgh Film Festival is the world’s oldest continuously running of its kind and for good reason! 

6. Edinburgh Science Festival

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via Facebook @EdinburghScienceFestival

Spend the Easter break brushing up on your scientific knowledge with this fun, interactive festival in April. As one of Europe’s largest science festivals, the programme is innovative and includes a selection of discussions, performances, workshops, screenings, special events and exhibitions. Opening dialogues about the future of our planet, this is a great day out for families and will thrill the little ones with its space and dinosaur displays. A favourite amongst locals, the two week event has been going on since 1989 and is just another example of why Edinburgh is the home of festivals. 

7. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

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via Facebook @TheRoyalEdinburghMilitaryTattoo

Rooted in Scottish tradition, the Tattoo is a spectacle of dance, music and processional display performed by the members of the armed forces. For almost seven decades,  the celebration of Scotland’s history has been attracting a global audience to witness the marches and songs of the British and Commonwealth troops. The festival takes place around Edinburgh Castle and is broadcast to the nation on national television. Taking on different themes each year, the Tattoo highlights things such as creativity, nature and Scotland’s homecoming and is a fantastic immersive experience.


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Flights to Edinburgh


- Lucy Norris