Edinburgh Festival

Things to do in Edinburgh | Edinburgh Festival

Every August Edinburgh transforms into Festival City and the population more than doubles as it plays host to thousands of visitors and performers from all over the world. Are you ready to join them for the International Festival?

In the wake of the Second World War Rudolf Bing, the General Manager of Glyndebourne Opera, and Henry Harvey Wood, the Head of the British Council in Scotland, came up with the idea of a festival to "provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit". In 1947 this dream was realised with the first Edinburgh International Festival. From its first year, the International Festival attracted artists who weren’t part of the official programme, which developed into the Fringe. Over the years, more and more festivals have grown up around it and there are now 12 major annual festivals in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh Festival

What's on

All acts are invited to perform by the Festival Director. This means you’ll find an array of world class stars of music, theatre, opera and dance, as well as plenty of art exhibitions, talks and workshops to keep you busy.

There are 11 main Festival venues which range from larger spaces, like the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, to atmospheric settings, like Greyfriars Kirk. Head to the Hub, a central box office and information centre housed in a striking gothic tower, to get your tickets and plan your day of festival fun.

Top tip

None of the International Festival venues are too far apart, which means it’s often easiest to walk between them. Don’t forget to wear sturdy shoes to make sure you’re comfortable.

Eating and drinking

Looking for the perfect place for some pre-show food and drink? Edinburgh offers a wealth of choices.

If you want to stay at the heart of the festival, the Café Hub is on Royal Mile close to the Festival’s ticket office. Offering lovely lunches and scrumptious afternoon teas, it’s a great spot to take a break from your busy day of festival activities.

Edinburgh has lots of buzzing bars and cosy pubs, but if you’re in a rush, head to the venue bar. Each of the Festival theatres sell drinks and snacks to keep you going through the performances.

Getting to Edinburgh Festival

Located in the heart of the city, you’ll find it easy to get between the International Festival venues.

By car
Edinburgh gets very busy during festival season so it’s recommended that you don’t take your car into the centre. Although there’s some pay and display parking, as well as car parks around the city, you’ll find that spaces are limited.

By bus
Edinburgh’s bus routes provide great links throughout the city. All the International Festival venues are located centrally so you’ll always find a bus stop close by.

By train
With frequent direct trains from London, Newcastle, Birmingham, Manchester and other main towns and cities, you’ll have no trouble getting into Edinburgh on the train. Waverley station is a quick 10 minute walk from The Hub.

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