Arts and culture in Edinburgh & The Lothians

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Brightly dressed performers take part in the Edinburgh Festival Carnival on the city's Princes Street © Kenny Lam
Edinburgh Festivals Guide ››

Download our FREE Edinburgh Festivals Survival Guide for all the hints, tips and highlights you need this July and August.

Discover a world of arts and culture in Edinburgh & The Lothians from major galleries and museums, to theatre, comedy and music.

Edinburgh is one of the most vibrant, beautiful and interesting cities in the world, which is regularly voted a must-visit destination. The city is home to many fantastic arts and culture attractions, while it hosts world-famous art events throughout the year.

As the first city in the world to be named a UNESCO City of Literature, spend a day immersing yourself in Edinburgh’s rich literary heritage on one of the city’s popular tours. 

Admire the imposing Scott Monument, a testament to the work of Sir Walter Scott, then head up the Mound to the absorbing Writers’ Museum in Lady Stair’s Close. Uncover the dark side of Edinburgh featured in Ian Rankin’s best selling Rebus novels, or hop aboard the Literary Bus Tour to visit the cultural landmarks and atmospheric streets that inspired literary greats, from Robert Burns and Arthur Conan Doyle to contemporary bestsellers like Alexander McCall Smith and JK Rowling.

In Edinburgh, the stunning Scottish National Gallery contains some of the world’s most important collections, while the National Gallery of Modern Art is set in sculptured parkland that is itself a work of art. The magnificently refurbished National Portrait Gallery re-opened in 2011, as did one of the city’s top attractions - the National Museum of Scotland.

Throughout the Lothians you can find out more about the local culture in museums, or why not visit the art and craft shops, in both the towns and villages and in the city of Edinburgh, to pick up a gift or treat for yourself?

The calendar of events and festivals peaks in summer with a spectacular range of music, theatre, dance, comedy and literature. Take in star-studded premieres at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, or contemplate life, love and literature at the Book Festival. The Fringe covers everything from comedy to street theatre, and with the jazz and blues, mela and international festivals, and the stirring Military Tattoo, there is entertainment in abundance.

Explore arts and culture attractions, events and more in Edinburgh & The Lothians.

  • The National Gallery
    The National Gallery
  • The Mardi Gras Carnival at the opening of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, the Grassmarket
    The Mardi Gras Carnival, the Grassmarket © Kenny Lam
  • Models and designer on the catwalk during the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival
    Catwalk Show
  • An Exhibition in the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art Two
    An Exhibition in the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art Two
Visitors peruse stalls at the Grassmarket Antique Fair

Arts and craft shops

Take advantage of the arts and craft shops in Edinburgh & The Lothians and take a beautiful part of this region home with you.

The Playhouse Theatre in Edinburgh

Arts and culture attractions

Visit the arts and culture attractions of Edinburgh & The Lothians, which include galleries, art centres and performance venues.

A male dancer from the Scottish Ballet performs 'Troy's Game'

Music, dance and theatre events

Enjoy top quality entertainment at music, dance and theatre events in Edinburgh & the Lothians

Highland dancers perform at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Arts and culture events

Take part in arts and culture events in Edinburgh & The Lothians, a region which is home to world’s festival capital, Edinburgh.

National Gallery


Explore the renowned galleries in Edinburgh & The Lothians which feature fine and modern art, portraits and contemporary work.

Looking across a calm Loch Duich to Eiliean Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh

Film locations in Scotland

Scotland provides the perfect backdrop for the world of cinema with its rugged landscape and stunning scenery.

A couple gaze out over Edinburgh from Calton Hill


Edinburgh is a city steeped in history and its stunning rich architectural heritage is now recognised as a World Heritage Site. Discover Edinburgh’s stunning architecture.

The statue of Sir Walter Scott below the Scott Monument, Princes Street Gardens East, Edinburgh

City of Literature

Edinburgh is renowned for its literary connections and in 2004 it became the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. Discover the capital city's literary connections by enjoying the attractions and festivals devoted to the written word.