The beautiful Scottish capital of Edinburgh has long been on the top of people’s lists as a holiday destination, but the city’s most popular period is definitely the summer months. In August, the city’s population goes through the roof and it becomes alive with entertainment for locals and visitors alike as everyone gets into the festival spirit. Between June and August alone there are no less than eight festivals running simultaneously or back-to-back. At the heart of all the festivals is the Royal Mile, a street in the UNESCO Old Town, where you will find the Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh City Centre. It is also home to some of Edinburgh’s most famous visitor attractions. These include the Scotch Whisky Experience, Mary King’s Close, Palace of Holyrood Palace, the Scottish Parliament and the most popular of them all, Edinburgh Castle, which dominates the city center's skyline. The Royal Mile itself is a hub for street performers and artists who descend on the city from across the globe, all trying to attract the attention of passers-by, drawing in huge crowds. It is also an open venue for performers to promote their shows.
Here is our introduction to all the festivals to see on your next trip to a Edinburgh. For more information, Edinburgh Festival City provides a full overview:
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe allows those who have a story to tell, to do so, no matter what format it takes. It can be theater, dance, cabaret, children’s shows or exhibitions; the list goes on with over 4,000 events in this year's festival. It originally started as a side-line to the International Festival, when acts didn’t make it onto the program. It has grown to be the largest arts festival in the world. Performers arrive from all over the globe with the goal to be the next big thing. All you need is a show and a venue. As well as new starts to the industry, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe also attracts major names in comedy to sell-out shows.
7 - 31 August 2020
Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Perhaps the biggest draw during each summer is the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. A fantastic celebration in its own right, make sure you secure your tickets well in advance and observe the magic unfold on the castle’s esplanade. There is no better backdrop in the world to experience the sound of massed pipes and drums. The highlight is definitely when the lights go out and the lone piper appears high up in the castle’s ramparts, putting chills down your spine as the sound of the bagpipes fill the air.
7 – 29 August 2020
Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival
The Jazz & Blues Festival has over 140 concerts on offer. We have Mike Hart, a jazz musician, to thank for this fabulous event. Founded in 1978, concerts and gigs were held in local pubs. Due to its success, it now reaches a much wider audience in venues across the city. Two free events include Edinburgh Festival Carnival, in Princess Street Gardens, and Mardi Gras in the Grass Market.
17 - 26 July 2020
Edinburgh Art Festival
The city’s Art Festival is the UK’s largest celebration of visual art. View the works of contemporary Scottish and international artists. It brings together the museums, galleries and artists of the city in innovative and exiting ways. Plus, most of the activities are free of charge!
30 July - 30 August 2020
Edinburgh International Festival
Edinburgh International Festival offers an elite program of events dedicated to the arts, including opera, ballet and classical music. Each year it sees over 2000 artists from over 40 nations. The festival wants to bring people together from all over the world to celebrate the arts and create unforgettable experiences.
7 - 31 August 2020
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Edinburgh, with its title of the world's first UNESCO City of Literature, it is the ideal place to celebrate a love of books with the International Book Festival. With the aim of bringing people of all ages together with a common interest in everything literature, the festival offers a variety activities. The festival takes place in the charming Charlotte Square Garden, and this year it welcomes over 800 authors across more than 700 events.
15 – 31 August 2020
Promoting world music, dance, fashion, food and fun, Edinburgh Mela is the time for all the cultures and nationalities to come together and celebrate the city's immense diversity. The multi-cultural event celebrates musical cultures from Cuba, India, West Africa, Brazil, and Spain to name a few. Let yourself be mesmerized by hip hop, flamenco, bollywood, tango and capoeira dance shows. In the Kidzone, children can take part in art workshops, listen to stories and generally immerse themselves in dance and music.
Edinburgh International Film Festival
The kick-off each summer is the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June. Established in 1947, it’s renowned worldwide for showcasing the best of global cinema, identifying new industry talent and offering its audience world premier events, debates and talks.
17 - 28 June 2020
To mark the end of the summer, the Edinburgh International Festival puts on a show to remember. The city’s skies become ablaze with one of the most impressive fireworks displays you will ever see, choreographed to music with absolute precision and set against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.