Festivals in Edinburgh- A Definitive Guide. - haystackhostel.com
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Festivals in Edinburgh- A Definitive Guide.

(Last Updated On: July 6, 2019)

One of the best things about Edinburgh is that there is always something to do. No matter what time of year you visit, you can be certain there will be a festival on. Despite this, it can be hard to know what will be happening during your visit. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of all the festivals available within and Edinburgh throughout the year.

With 36 festivals in total to choose from, this is quite a long list. If you know what dates you are coming, to Edinburgh, use our navigation list below to see what festival is when. Click on the festival and you will jump straight to it.

  1. Burns Night: 25th January.
  2. Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival: 3rd-4th February.
  3. Lumen Festival: 8th February-11th March.
  4. Cheese Festival: 11th-12th February.
  5. Edinburghs Festival of Ireland: 16th-24th March.
  6. International Harp Festival: 30th March-4th April.
  7. International Science Festival: 31st March-15th April.
  8. Tradfest Edinburgh: 26th April- 6th May.
  9. Beltane Fire Festival: 30th April-1st May.
  10. Mental Health Arts Festival: 7th-27th May.
  11. Edinburgh Magic Festival: 11th-19th May.
  12. Edinburgh Marathon Festival: 26th-27th May.
  13. International Children’s Festival: 26th May- 3rd June.
  14. Leith Festival: 9th-17th June.
  15. International Film Festival: 20th June-3rd July.
  16. Highland Show: 21st-24th June.
  17. Jazz and Blue Festival: 13th-22nd July.
  18. Rum and Reggae Festival: 21st July.
  19. FuturePlay Festival: 1st-22nd August.
  20. Free Festival: 2-26th August.
  21. Just Festival: 4th-27th August.
  22. International Festival: 3rd-27th August.
  23. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo: 3rd-25th August.
  24. Edinburgh Festival Fringe: 3rd-27th August.
  25. Fringe by the Sea: 7th-13th August.
  26. Edinburgh Book Festival:11th-27th August.
  27. Art Festival: 26th July-26th August.
  28. Edinburgh Mela: 1st-2nd September.
  29. Kilt Walk: 16th September.
  30. Blues and Rock Festival: 22nd September.
  31. The Dussehra Hindu Festival: 8th October.
  32. Scottish International Storytelling Festival: 19th – 31st October.
  33. Edinburgh Short Film Contest: 27th October – 11th November.
  34. Edinburgh Diwali: 29th October.
  35. Christmas Markets: 16th November – 5th January.
  36. Edinburgh Hogmanay: 30th December – 1st January.

Burn’s Night – 25th January

Poet Roberts Burns is a Scottish hero and Burn’s night is the celebration of his life and works. In his memory, dinners known as Burns suppers are put on up and down the country.

Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival – 3rd to 4th February

An annual event taking place at George Square Lecture Theatre at Edinburgh University. This festival features films and lecturers from all around the world.

Lumen Festival – 8th February to 11th March

The Lumen festival is new edition to the capital and involves multiple art installations throughout the city. It utilizes immersive light and sound displays in an attempt to brighten up the city in the darker months. In 2018, the main feature was located on The Mound. This consisted of over 12,000 lights suspended from a 5-metre-high structure.

Cheese Festival – 11th to 12th February

Hosted at the iconic Corn Exchange, CheeseFest brings together artisan cheese makers from all over the UK. With over 200 Venders and 150 types of cheese at each show, it is a must for any cheese lover. Tickets can be purchased online and go from just £3.

Edinburgh’s Festival of Ireland – 16th to 24th March

Celebrating Celtic culture in Edinburgh, this festival runs throughout February. Many venues, bars and pubs feature celtic themed events such as Ceilidhs and traditional music sessions. A full list of events can be found on the Festival of Ireland website –http://www.edinburghsfestivalofireland.org/page3.html

International Harp Festival – 30th March to 4th April

The Harp festival brings some of the world’s best harp performers and teachers to the city of Edinburgh. With concerts, classes and seminars, its a must for anyone in Edinburgh with an interest in Harps.

International Science Festival – 31st March to 15th April

This festival has become one of Europe’s largest public celebrations of science.  It aims to bring the wonder of science to the streets of Edinburgh. With over 30 years of experience in creating exiting events, there is something for all ages. Events can be found throughout the entire city at locations such as The National Museum and Dynamic Earth.

TradFest Edinburgh – 26 April to 6 May 2018

A festival devoted to the heritage and culture of Scotland and the living traditions that Scotland is known for. It features events throughout the city in music, storytelling, dance, craft, film, folk drama. This is a great way to experience real Scottish traditions without straying far from the city centre.

Beltane Fire Festival – 30th April to 1st May

The Beltane Fire Festival on April 30th sees the hill transformed by fire, dancers and acrobatics unlike anything else. It is a truly unique Edinburgh experience.  It was started in 1988 by a small group inspired by the ancient Gaelic festival of Beltane. This festival marked the beginning of summer. This event has now grown into a huge annual event. While originally free and lightly stewarded, it is now ticketed due to the huge demand in recent years. Tickets range from £9 booked early to £13 on the night.

Mental Health Arts Festival – 7th to 27th May

Taking place at venues all throughout Scotland, this festival now  is one of Scotland’s most diverse cultural events. Celebrating the artistic achievements of people experiencing mental health issues while promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.

Edinburgh Magic Festival – 11th to 19th May

Described as “The best magicians in the world, in the worlds most magical city”. With over 12,000 visitors last year, the festival is going from strength to strength. The festival features Everything from free shows on the street to a world class magic show in the festival theatre. This festival has something for every budget.

Edinburgh Marathon Festival – 26th to 27th May

With 9 Events from Marathon to kid’s kilometre, there is an event for every level of runner. The course was even voted the fastest in the UK by Runner’s World. This race should be on the list of any running enthusiast. Late entries are open until the 2nd of May and for more information visit https://www.edinburghmarathon.com.

International Children’s Festival – 26th May to 3rd June

This festival aims to bring the world’s best theater for younger audiences to the city of Edinburgh. While it is great for any young visitors, it can also be equally entertaining for any attending adults!  There is a big focus on striking visuals which will appeal to all ages. Definitely one to add to your list of must see festivals in Edinburgh.

Leith Festival – 9th to 17th June

Often left unexplored by visitors, Leith makes a nice day trip if you’re looking to explore the outskirts of Edinburgh. The festival offers events ranging from music, art and theatre. It also offers historic tours of this fascinating and up and coming part of Edinburgh.

International Film Festival – 20th June to 3rd July

The world’s longest continually-running film festival is a must visit for any film lover or aspiring film maker. With screenings ranging from small indie films to the Premieres of highest budget Hollywood productions there is something for everyone. If you are looking to enter the film industry, be sure to attend. This is due to the many internship and job openings during the festival.

Highland Show – 21st to 24th June

Located on the outskirts of Edinburgh, The Highland Show has become one of Scotland’s most iconic events. With a huge variety of events and stalls, it has gained a huge following. It celebrates the rural side of Scotland by showcasing some of the country’s best farm foods and products.

Jazz and Blues Festival – 13th to 22nd July

Featuring some of the best jazz and blues musicians in the world, this is one for all music fans. With performances in some of Edinburgh’s most beautiful venues, there is no better way to hear your favourite musicians. There are also many free shows taking place in throughout the city.

Rum and Reggae Festival – 21st July

A wonderful way to sample different cultures through music from all over the world. You also have the opportunity to try a wide range of Rums! It takes place at The Edinburgh Corn Exchange, only a small bus journey away from the centre of town. A great experience for anyone in Edinburgh over the age of 18, tickets are available for booking online.

FuturePlay Festival – 1st to 22nd August

One of the newer festivals in Edinburgh, it celebrates the crossover between entertainment and technology. Events throughout the month give visitors the chance to experience new developments in the technology of the entertainment industry. Coinciding with The Fringe and other goings-on, Futureplay gives you another reason to join the millions of visitors throughout August.

Free Festival 2nd – 26th August

As the name suggests, this is a free alternative The Edinburgh Fringe. Set up to make performing in the festival more accessible to newcomers, it always features some brilliant acts. All shows operate on free entry and performers make money by tips at the end of the show.

Just Festival – 4th to 27th August

Taking place at St John’s Church in the heart of Edinburgh’s city centre. The Just Festival aims to challenge perceptions and celebrate differences through the medium of conversations, talks, exhibitions and performances.

International Festival – 3rd to 27th August

One of the more famous festivals in Edinburgh, the international festival brings together some of the world’s most unique talents. Acts perform in some of the most beautiful venues in the city, featuring music, theatre and dance.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo – 3rd to 25th August

Another reason to visit the city during August, this is one the most iconic events in the Edinburgh calendar. With an annual audience of around 220,000, book in advance as it sells out every year. The event showcases music, dance and military displays all set to the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. It is world famous for a reason, and another event to add to your bucket-list.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe – 3rd to 27th August

The ultimate festival in Edinburgh, it takes over the entire city of Edinburgh for the month of August. The Edinburgh fringe is infamous throughout the entire world. For over 70 years, The Fringe has brought hundreds of thousands of visitors and performers. It fills every possible venue and lines the streets with some of the most unique characters the world over. The Fringe festival is a must see. However, if you’re looking to enjoy Edinburgh to yourself August is probably not the month to choose.

A list of available shows for 2018 is available at here.

Fringe by the Sea – 7th to 13th August

Located in the quaint seaside town North Berwick, this festival is just a 20-minute train journey away from Edinburgh. Fringe by the Sea has everything that the Fringe has just with the added bonus of the sea air.

Edinburgh Book Festival – 11th to 27th August

Every August this event brings over 1000 Authors to Edinburgh to celebrate all things to do with the written word. The Festival takes place in a specially made tent village and includes writers of everything from Poetry to comic books.

Art Festival – 26th July to 26th August

If you are interested in art of any kind then Edinburgh always has something to offer year round. But if you visit during the Art Festival there is more on offer than ever! Bringing some of the best emerging talent alongside renowned artists of all mediums throughout the whole city of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Mela – 1st to 2nd September

Scotland’s biggest festival of world dance brings tradition from all over the world to the Edinburgh Town of Leith. Taking place every year in the first weekend of September, it is not to be missed! Anyone staying in Edinburgh during this time should definitely consider paying a visit to Leith. It is only a 30-minute walk or a short bus journey from the centre of town.

Kilt Walk – 16th September

A great way to raise money for charity and take in the iconic sights of Edinburgh! An annual charity fundraiser, participants put on their kilts and walk 6, 13 or 26 miles through Edinburgh. It is quite a sight to see thousands of people wearing our national dress and a should not be missed.

Blues and Rock Festival – 22nd September

A great night of music at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange! All about getting the best local, national & international performers together for one night, it is one for all music lovers.

The Dussehra Hindu Festival – 8th October

Originally a simple parade through the streets, this festival is now one of the largest free independant festivals in Edinburgh. Bringing Indian culture to Edinburgh, it is a fantastic experience for locals and visitors alike. The spectacular climax sees two 25ft statues being set alight, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil.

Scottish International Storytelling Festival – 19th to 31st October

Through Performance, workshops, talks and children’s events this festival brings together some of the best story tellers the world over. Scotland has a great tradition of oral storytelling and this festival brings both Scottish and international traditions alive.

Edinburgh Short Film Contest – 27th October to 11th November

Another one for any aspiring filmmaker. This festival gives you the chance to screen your film at some of the most beautiful traditional cinemas in Edinburgh. Venues include The Cameo and The Film house in the city centre itself. Tickets are available for all films selected making it a great chance to see upcoming talent.

Edinburgh Diwali – 29th October

Edinburgh Diwali is an excellent chance to enjoy the celebrations of another culture. It takes place at the Ross Band stand and Features performers, singers and a parade. Like many of Edinburghs festivals, it concludes with some spectacular fireworks. Most often all these events will be free and open to the public.

Christmas Markets – 16th November – 5th January

Throughout the Christmas period, Princes Street Gardens are transformed into a winter wonderland. With stalls selling anything from freshly made traditional German food to home-brewed moonshine. As well as markets, the gardens are filled with amusements and rides. In particular, check out the Star Flyer next to The Walter Scott Monument. At 200ft high, it is a very alternative way to get a view over the city. Other than during The Fringe, this is Edinburgh’s busiest time so it’s best to visit the markets during weekdays.

Edinburgh Hogmanay – 30th December – 1St January

Often voted the best way to spend your New Years, it is something to add to any bucket list. Beginning on the 30th of December with the Torch light procession, it culminates with the incredible street party on NYE. After you’ve experienced Edinburgh’s Hogmanay you will realise why it is considered the best in the world.

Hopefully this has given you an idea of the range of festivals in Edinburgh available all throughout the year. If you have any further questions about the festivals mentioned feel free to contact us any time.