It’s easy to see why Edinburgh is known as the Festival City – whether it’s summer or winter, there’s always something on! Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Fringe are by far the two most famous events, but there are also several others worth checking out on a visit to Scotland.
Mark these down on your calendar – Edinburgh’s world famous festivals are not to be missed!
The first festival
Held every August since 1947, Edinburgh International Festival is the mother of them of all. Over three weeks, Edinburgh is transformed into a world stage of art, music, opera, dance and theatre, with participants handpicked by the festival director. This year’s event will open with a free light show at Edinburgh Castle and will close with a literal bang with a firework concert on the last night. Many major events are held right in the heart of the city, at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh, a beautiful 19th century theatre with room for 2,000 people. Most tickets are affordable, with early bird discounts and exclusive offers available via the website.
The biggest festival
Also in August is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which was originally launched as an alternative to the International Festival. It’s now the world’s largest arts festival with last year’s event featuring over 50,000 performances in 313 different venues. Unlike the International Festival, anyone can take part across sections such as theatre, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret, children’s shows and exhibitions. The Fringe is largely known for its comedy with many well-known British comedians (Rowan Atkinson, Billy Connolly, Ben Elton) getting their start here. Whether you come for the International Festival or the Fringe, you’re sure to have a fun time at these two Edinburgh festivals!
The funny festival
The Edinburgh Comedy Festival is a popular part of the Fringe with three awards and prizes given out for different categories: Best Comedy Show, Best Newcomer Award and the Panel Prize. Previous winners include The Mighty Boosh, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.
The traditional festival
What’s one of the first things that spring to mind when you think of Edinburgh? The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo must be up there and you simply can’t come to Scotland without seeing the Tattoo. Also, in August, you can see military bands, armed forces and dance troupes performing on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. It’s an iconic Scottish event that has sold out in advance for the last decade – don’t miss out!
The musical festival
The world’s best jazz and blues musicians head to Scotland every year to play at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, held over 10 days in July. From bop and boogie-woogie to blues-rock, there’s something to suit your musical taste at this funky festival. Plus, you get two festivals in one – the free Edinburgh Festival Carnival is on at the same time, where colourful dancers and acrobats take to the streets to party!
The rowdiest festival
While summer is a popular time for Scottish festivals, the colder months bring one special event: Edinburgh Hogmanay. The legendary New Year’s Eve celebration sees over 150,000 party-goers kick start the New Year with music events, a fireworks show and, as you’d expect, lots of drinking! Highlights include the opening Torchlight Procession, the wild Street Party on 31st December, where live bands and DJs countdown to midnight beneath Edinburgh Castle, and then the hardcore revellers start January with a splash as they dive into the freezing River Forth for the South Queensferry Loony Dook. Maybe an event that’s better watched from the shore!