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.
Why not play the Suggest My Fest app via the Festival Facebook page to help you choose what you'd like to see at the EIF?
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 unforgettable spectacle is brought to an emotional and poignant close each evening as a lone piper, high on the castle ramparts, plays a haunting lament. For a fantastic multicultural flavour, don't miss the Edinburgh Mela which celebrates the city’s diversity with music, dance, exhibitions and more.
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.
Opening with a Mardi Gras in the Grassmarket, July's Jazz and Blues Festival is a high-energy festival with two weeks of vibrant music in venues across the city.
Film, science and storytelling
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.
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.
East Lothian festivals
In the summer, the Lothians boasts festivals such as Fringe by the Sea in North Berwick and the British Pipe Band Championships in Bathgate. Over the autumn and winter months, the Lothians host festivals including the Lennoxlove Book Festival and the Lammermuir Festival. You'll find Highland games, local fairs and festivals throughout towns and villages.