Edinburgh | What's on | Events and festivals

Events and festivals

It all began in 1947. Edinburgh International Festival was established to encourage the “flowering of the human spirit” after the horrors of the World War II. Edinburgh Fringe and Edinburgh International Film Festival came into being the same year with many more events to follow. Today, more than 3,000 events featuring over 25,000 performers from 70 countries attract more than 250,000 visitors. Welcome to Edinburgh, Festival City. 

Edinburgh Festival

The original and the biggest, Edinburgh Festival dominates the city for three weeks in August. It showcases world-class theatre, performing arts and music across all Edinburgh’s major stages (and some of its smaller ones). Many plays debut at Edinburgh International Festival before going on tour. 

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Royal Military Tattoo

Edinburgh Tattoo is a celebration of pomp and ceremony. Taking place in front of Edinburgh Castle, it’s based on a different theme each year. Amidst all the singing, dancing, cultural troupes and fireworks, the massed pipes and drums, massed military bands and the Lone Piper are always the highlight.

Edinburgh Fringe

Spanning 25 days and with more than 50,000 performances across 250+ venues, Edinburgh Fringe is a riot of theatre, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret, musicals, opera, spoken word, physical theatre, exhibitions and events. It’s open to anyone so you might bump into a talent scout or discover the next big thing!

Viewing art at The Edinburgh Art Gallery

Edinburgh Art Festival

As the UK’s largest annual art festival, Edinburgh Art Festival is an important platform for established and up-and-coming artists. Exhibitions and events take place in many of the Edinburgh’s galleries but keep your eye out for permanent commissions dotted around the city.

Clapperboard scene from film-making - The Edinburgh Film Festival

International Film Festival

Feature films, documentaries, shorts, experimental cinema, and new talent from around the world are the focus of Edinburgh International Film Festival. Many famous films have debuted at the Edinburgh Interational Film Festival (EIFF) and you may recognise a face or two on the red carpet.

Bookreading at The Edinburgh Literary Festival

International Book Festival

As a UNESCO City of Literature, it’s only right that Edinburgh has its own book festival. Over the course of the festival, there are more than 750 events featuring writers and thinkers from around the world. Expect thought-provoking discussions, idea sharing and lively debates - for adults and children. 

Reading to children at The Edinburgh Storytelling Festival

Storytelling Festival

Taking place in October, this festival is great for kids. Inspired by the Scottish ceilidh, it brings together storytellers and musicians from around Scotland who share songs, ballads and anecdotes.

The Science Festival, Edinburgh

Science Festival

The International Science Festival has a programme for kids, and one for adults. It features discussions, workshops and performances that encourage new ways of thinking about all things scientific.

The Jazz and Blues Festival, Edinburgh

Jazz and Blues Festival

For ten days in July, Edinburgh’s clubs, theatres and concert halls are alive with the sound of jazz, blues, boogie woogie, samba, swing and soul. There are almost 200 gigs plus the Mardi Gras and Festival Carnival events.

The Edinburgh Mela

Edinburgh Mela

The Mela is Scotland’s biggest celebration of music and dance. Drawing inspiration from different cultures and countries, it takes placea little outside the city centre in Leith Links. People love it for the food it has to offer.

Children performing at an Edinburgh festival


Imaginate is a festival dedicated to performing arts, theatre and dance for young people and kids. It opens with Family Fringe, a weekend of free performances and arts activities at the National Museum of Scotland.


Hogmanay is a three-day celebration made up of the Street Party, Old Town Ceilidh, Candlelit Concert, Concert in the Gardens and fireworks every hour from 9pm. The festivities culminate with the Torchlight Procession up Calton Hill.

Christmas markets

With over 100 stalls enticing you with hand-crafted gift ideas, delicious food, decorations for your home and warming cauldrons on mulled wine, Edinburgh Christmas market has Christmas spirit by the truck load.

Looking for a hotel in Edinburgh?

Whether it's the Edinburgh city centre, next to Edinburgh Castle, or Princes Street, or the outskirts of town, we have the right hotel for you. Flying in on business and we've hotels next to Edinburgh Airport. And if you're looking for a family-friendly hotel for a weekend break we have those aswell.