The Fringe and a slew of summer festivals light up the area with music, comedy, theatre and a creative vibe unparalleled in the world

18 Must-Attend Festivals in Edinburgh


Music, film, science, visual art—whatever you’re into, chances are Edinburgh has a festival dedicated to it. Though there is a lot going on year-round, its most active month is August when the population doubles or even triples for the famed Fringe and Edinburgh International Festival.

What to do in August

1. Edinburgh International Festival: Three weeks of performing arts (music, theatre, opera and dance) during August. The festival was inaugurated in 1947 to celebrate the end of WWII.
2. Edinburgh Festival Fringe: The initial edition of the Edinburgh International Festival cast aside eight theatre companies, who then joined forces to create their own little festival. The first Fringe Fest was born. It is now the largest performing arts festival in the world with more than 4000 performances through August. Anything goes: circus acts, buskers, jugglers, theatre, slam, music. Famous acts are usually performing in larger venues managed by agencies such as Assembly and the Gilded Balloon.
3. Edinburgh Military Tattoo: Held on the esplanade of the Edinburgh Castle for three weeks in August, this festival features military fanfares, bagpipes and other military acts in front of the castle.
4. Edinburgh International Book Festival: This two-week festival offers lecture, debates, conferences, book signing in the middle of Charlotte Square in the New Town.
5. PBH Free Fringe
6. Free Edinburgh Fringe Festival
7. The Edinburgh Mela: Scotland’s biggest festival of world music and dance taking place in Leith at the end of August.
8. The Forest Fringe:  Founded in 2007 as an independent, not-for-profit space, the Forest Fringe brings experimentation and risk to its audiences in the midst of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Unusual free performances in sometimes unusual places, the festival has made a name for itself and is now producing shows in Bangkok and London.
9. Whisky Fringe: This tasting event by Royal Mile Whiskies is 15 years old and draws people from around the world to the Mansfield Traquair, an ornate heritage venue.

Other notable events and festivals year-round in Edinburgh:

10. Edinburgh International Science Festival in April features a program of discussions, workshops, performances, screenings, special events and exhibitions.
11. Beltane Fire Festival is a celebration of an ancient celtic ritual. Takes place on Calton Hill on April 30.
12. Hidden Door Festival:  A nine-day, not-for-profit arts festival in abandoned or hidden places in Edinburgh. Takes place in May or June.
13. The Imaginate Festival is Scotland’s international festival of performing arts for children and young people and also takes place at end of May or beginning of June.
14. The Edinburgh International Film Festival occurs in June.
15. The Royal Highland Show  is a four-day country and agriculture show. Also takes place in June.
16. The Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival happens in July.
17. Edinburgh’s Christmas
18. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is a New Year’s Festival.