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Top Festivals Celebrations To Attend In Edinburgh

Your Guide to the Top 8 Festivals in Edinburgh: Experience the Best of Scotland (2024)

Edinburgh is the cultural hub of Scotland. This beautiful city invites people from across the world to attend a whirlwind of festivals and celebrations. When in Edinburgh, you can attend a range of theatre events, classic film events, concerts, street parties, outdoor performances, and all things creative. Not only that but throughout the year, Edinburgh lights up with fireworks, whether it is for New Year’s Eve or for any other festive celebration.

Some of the popular festivals/celebrations in Edinburgh include the Science Festival, Jazz & Blues Festival, Film Festival, and Storytelling Festival.

Top 8 Festivals/Celebrations To Attend In Edinburgh

Want to learn more? Join us as we guide you through the Top 8 Festivals and celebrations in Edinburgh. Scottish capital boasts a year-round lineup of artistic experiences, and here’s more about it.

1. Edinburgh International Festival

When and Where? In the month of August, it is hosted at various venues across the city of Edinburgh, including historic theatres, concert halls, and outdoor spaces.

The Edinburgh International Festival has been organizing cultural celebrations since 1947. This annual event is all about artistic performances, be it theatre, dance, music, or more. Organized in August, the festival is known for its world-class productions that attract millions of attendees. A chance to attend it allows visitors to immerse themselves in arts and the expression of vibrant cultural scenes. This month-long event organizes performances at different places around the city, featuring high-quality shows and the beautiful backdrop of historic Edinburgh. From contemporary dance performance to music concerts and classic shows, the festival host it all. Being a part of it is a great way to experience Scottish art and culture.

2. Edinburgh Festival Fringe

When and Where? In the month of August, it is hosted at various venues across the city of Edinburgh, including theatres, pubs, makeshift performance spaces, and outdoor areas.
Also known as Fringe, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has been organized since 1947, coinciding with the Edinburgh International Festival. As the August month hits the calendar, Fringe begins celebrating diverse and independent artistic performances. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is also the largest art festival in the world, featuring music, dance, drama, comedy, and other experimental performances. The event isn’t limited to one single venue but is spread across various venues throughout Edinburgh. Fringe is known for its decentralized nature, with performances at makeshift spaces, street events, and other theatre spaces. For anyone interested in a unique and vibrant cultural experience, this festival in Edinburgh is a must-visit.

3. Hogmanay

When and Where? On New Year’s Eve on Princes Street and the adjacent streets in Edinburgh’s city centre.

The European land has a tradition of Hogmanay as New Year’s Eve. This New Year’s Eve celebration has been a cherished tradition since time immemorial. The name Hogmanay is uniquely Scottish, and it translates to New Year’s eve. The celebration typically takes place on December 31 each year. Since time is unrecorded, this event is deeply rooted in Scottish culture. Edinburgh has become the epicentre of these celebrations for centuries. With Hogmanay, the historic streets of Edinburgh come alive with a grand firework display illuminating the sky over Edinburgh Castle. Not only that, but the event also includes live music performances and a vibrant street party. The Hogmanay celebration has a tradition of first footing, where the first person to enter a home after the stroke of midnight brings symbolic gifts for good luck. Whenever in Edinburgh, this age-old celebration is a must-visit.

4. Royal Highland Show

When and Where? Over several days in June at the Royal Highland Centre in Ingliston, just outside Edinburgh.

The Royal Highland Show is a premier agricultural event in Scotland. It isn’t typically an Edinburgh event but is organized just outside the city in Ingliston. The Royal Highland Show has been organized since 1822 and has been a tradition since then. It is more like a longstanding exhibition that celebrates Scotland’s rural heritage, agricultural prowess, and the importance of farming and rural life. The event takes place in June and is organized by the Royal Highland Centre. It is all about displaying agricultural activities, including equestrian events, agricultural machinery displays, livestock shows, along with food and drink exhibitions. The event draws attendees, exhibitors and farmers from all across Scotland and other parts of western Europe. It is undoubtedly an event showcasing the best of Scottish agriculture and rural culture. The celebration may have evolved over the years, but its traditions remain the original.

5. Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

When and Where? Typically, during the month of August, at the iconic Edinburgh Castle.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of the best events to attend in Edinburgh. This spectacular event is all about displaying military music, precision drill, and artistic performances. Organized against the magnificent backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the event has been captivating audiences since 1950. It brings together artists groups, dance troupes and military bands from all across the world. The idea behind Military Tattoo came out of the desire to boost the post-war morale and tourism of Edinburgh. However, over the years, it has grown into a global phenomenon. The event’s popularity lies in its ability to blend tradition and innovation. Every year, it attracts thousands of attendees, especially the ones who gather on the esplanade of the historic castle. So whenever you are at Edinburgh Castle next, do not miss this spectacular event.

6. Scottish Real Ale Festival

When and Where? In July, at the Assembly Roxy venue and various other locations in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

If you are an adult in Edinburgh, do not miss a chance to attend the Scottish Real Ale Festival. This delightful celebration of craft beer and real ales has been a cherished tradition since 2009. The gathering welcomes beer enthusiasts from across Scotland and beyond as a prominent event. Since its beginning, Scottish Real Ale has been a platform for showcasing the best of Scottish real ales and craft beers. Event attendees can try multiple samples of traditional ales, innovative brews, unique flavours, and more. The event also features beers, ciders, and related products from various breweries. Besides indulging in ales, the event also allows visitors to meet the brewers and learn about the brewing process. As you immerse yourself in the vibrant beer culture, the experience becomes totally worth it. Overall, for every beer aficionado and craft beer lover in Edinburgh, the Scottish Real Ale Festival is a must-visit event.

7. Edinburgh International Book Festival

When and Where? In the month of August at Charlotte Square Gardens

Are you a bookworm? Well then, you cannot miss the Edinburgh International Book Festival. This grand celebration of literature and ideas has been gracing the Scottish land since 1983, and undoubtedly, it has been beloved. The event takes place annually in the heart of Edinburgh, right within the picturesque setting of Charlotte Square Gardens. Initially, it was just a small thought, but eventually, it outgrew to become one of the leading literary gatherings in the world. The festival attracts thinkers, poets, writers and authors from all across the world. It won’t be a surprise if you capture some of the most famous names from the writing world here. Edinburgh International Book Festival acts as a platform for people to engage in events like author readings, book signings, panel discussions, and workshops. This cherished cultural event in Edinburgh is also known for fostering a sense of community among book lovers.

8. Edinburgh Festival of Science

When and Where? For two weeks every year (no particular time) at various venues across the city of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Last but not the least on our list is the Edinburgh Festival of Science. Organizing since 1989, it is now known as the Edinburgh International Science Festival. This annual celebration in Edinburgh is all about science, innovation, and exploration. The exact time for the event isn’t the same every year, though it majorly comes around in April, transforming the entire city into scientific discovery. The festival involves engaging events, exhibitions, workshops, talks, and interactive displays. It attracts science enthusiasts, educators and scientists from all across the world who share their passion and knowledge of science. The idea behind the Edinburgh International Science Festival is to make science accessible and enjoyable for people of all ages. It fosters curiosity and a deeper understanding of the world around us and is truly a marvel to attend. No matter what age you are, attend the event at least once. Whether you’re interested in astronomy, biology, technology, or any other field of science, be a part of it.

*Since most of the festivals and events in Edinburgh are hosted during the month of August, you know when to visit this Scottish city the next time.

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