Although the festivals run all year round, the summer months - and August in particular - are when festival fever reaches its height.
The Edinburgh International Festival, founded in 1947, is the official centrepiece of Edinburgh’s festivals. Running for four weeks, this performing arts festival has world-class displays of theatre, dance and music. The Festival ends with a spectacular firework display at Edinburgh Castle.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs alongside the International Festival. The Fringe is the world’s largest art festival, with over 2,500 different shows last year. The Fringe has strong ties with comedy and drama, as well as featuring more unusual acts such as puppetry and circus performers. For those who want their money to go a little further, there are also hundreds of Free Fringe events.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is another August must-see. Almost a thousand musicians, pipers, drummers, singers and dancers from around the globe perform on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade. This unfogettable spectacle is brought to an emotional and poignant close each evening as a lone piper, high on the castle ramparts, plays a haunting lament.
Another August festival is the Edinburgh International Book Festival, staged in the elegant surroundings of the city centre's Charlotte Square. The event regularly attracts a world-class selection of authors, with previous appearances from Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling and Ian Rankin amongst many others. With around 700 events each year, including free evening events, you’re sure to find the right genre to suit your literary tastes.
There are also festivals spread throughout the year. The Edinburgh International Film Festival is held in June, and shows a vast range of new films from around the world. With its glitzy premieres and cutting-edge independent films, the Film Festival brings a touch of Hollywood glamour to Edinburgh.
Another summer festival is the Jazz and Blues Festival. Opening with a Mardi Gras in the Grassmarket, this high-energy festival is two weeks of vibrant music in venues across the city. The Edinburgh Mela also has a multicultural flavour, celebrating the city’s diversity with music, dance, exhibitions and more.
The two-week Edinburgh International Science Festival is held at the end of March. With interactive experiments, talks and much more for all ages, you can discover more about the mysteries of our world.
The Scottish International Storytelling Festival in October is Scotland's annual celebration of traditional and contemporary storytelling. The festival brings together artists and audiences in entertaining and inspiring live storytelling performances, thought-provoking talks, workshops and discussions and fun family activities.
Find events in Edinburgh and The Lothians.