Perhaps it’s no surprise that the entertainment in Edinburgh is world-beating. After all, this is the city that has a month-long celebration of theatre, comedy, dance, spoken word and music from around the world every year. But the show must (and does) go on, even when the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is done and dusted. Whether you’re into music, theatre, comedy or opera - or the only kind of entertainment you enjoy is of the sporting variety - you’ll find this city caters for it all in style. And all of its top name venues are within reach of our Edinburgh hotels, too.
Entertainment in Edinburgh
Whether you want to get tickets for the hottest show in town or just want to watch an intimate gig by a local up-and-coming band, Edinburgh has some brilliant music venues - and many are attractions in their own right.
Beautiful on the outside and with renowned acoustics on the inside, Usher Hall been entertaining Edinburgh since 1914. All year round, its programme is packed with famous pop, rock, blues and jazz artists. Recent events have included Morrissey and Thom Yorke, but the venue is most famous for the gigs the Rolling Stones played here in the 1960s. It’s close to our Edinburgh Central (Lauriston Place) hotel, too.
Queen's Hall is a 900-capacity music venue - and a very beautiful one it is too. Originally built in 1823 as Hope Park Chapel, it became a concert venue and now plays host to all types of live music. Among its 200 performances every year you’ll find everyone from indie legends The Zombies to Passenger.
As well as hosting conferences and wedding fairs, Edinburgh Corn Exchange is a well-known venue on the city’s gig scene. Great if you like your gigs up close and intimate, the former agricultural hall has hosted everyone from Arcade Fire to Sister Sledge.
Royal Lyceum Theatre
Round off your Edinburgh city break with a night at the theatre. But which one? We’ve listed the biggest hitters below, but there’s also the Royal Lyceum Theatre which focuses on gritty drama and high brow productions, and the Traverse Theatre which is dedicated to nurturing fresh talent and new work. You really will be spoilt for choice!
Edinburgh Playhouse has more seats than any other theatre in the UK. But with major West End productions such as Ghost, Billy Elliot and Mamma Mia dominating its stage, you shouldn’t be complacent about booking your tickets well in advance. If you are lucky enough to catch a show here, booking into the Premier Inn hotel near the Edinburgh Playhouse means you can really make a night of it.
Looking for cutting-edge dramas? Pay a visit to the Festival Theatre. Standing on Edinburgh's longest continuous theatre site, a 1994-refurbishment gave it the largest stage in Scotland, an eye-catching modern glass-fronted foyer and a plush 1,915-seat auditorium.
Dramas are what the King’s Theatre does best. It’s a regular residence for productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre of Scotland plus headline plays straight out of the West End.
With some of the best classical music venues anywhere in the UK, you’ll find that opera is a regular fixture of the city’s entertainment scene.
For starters, there’s Festival Theatre, close to our Premier Inn Edinburgh Royal Mile hotel. Not only is the venue central to the Edinburgh International Festival, it’s also widely considered the number one venue in Edinburgh for both opera and ballet. Not surprising, really, considering it’s the official home of both Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet.
The 1972 Eurovision Song Contest may have been hosted at Usher Hall but that shouldn’t put off any classical music fans. The acoustics here are pristine, meaning performers from all over the world flock to perform. It’s also the Edinburgh home of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Queen's Hall is a beautiful former church and its intimate atmosphere makes for some stunning classical music performances. It hosts around 200 gigs a year, which lean towards folk, world, jazz and classical. It’s also the performance home for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
If you love your entertainment of the sporting variety, you’ll be pleased to hear that Edinburgh has some prestigious associations: it’s home to the national rugby union team and a top flight football club.
The Scots are passionate about rugby so Edinburgh is proud to be the home of the BT Murrayfield Stadium. The biggest sports stadium in Scotland, it’s where Scottish Rugby Union plays its home games. When it isn’t hosting Pro12 and Heineken Cup matches, Edinburgh Rugby (Edinburgh’s rugby union team) plays its home games here. And there’s no need to miss a minute of the action on the pitch when you’re booked into our hotel near Murrayfield.
Tynecastle Stadium belongs to Edinburgh’s premiership football team, Hearts FC (officially known as the Heart of Midlothian FC). Tynecastle is known and loved for its exhilarating atmosphere and exuberant crowds so if you’re a football fan, a trip to Tynecastle comes highly recommended. It’s within walking distance of the city centre, or a short drive away.
When it comes to what’s on in Edinburgh, there’s one little August festival that overshadows them all. But, despite what you might have heard, there are other events in Edinburgh that happen throughout the year.
The original and the biggest, Edinburgh International 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.
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!
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.
Edinburgh’s Royal Military 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.
With over 100 stalls enticing you with hand-crafted gift ideas, delicious food, decorations for your home and warming cauldrons of mulled wine, Edinburgh Christmas market has Christmas spirit by the truck load.
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.
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 here and you may recognise a face or two on the red carpet.
Although the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is famous for its cutting-edge comedy shows, there’s no reason to miss out if you’re not in town for the August spectacular.
Staying in our Edinburgh City Centre (York Place) hotel? You’re in luck, as it’s the nearest Premier Inn hotel to The Stand, the most famous venue in Edinburgh for comedy. From major touring names to locals hoping for a big break, not to be missed is its Sunday improv show. Starting at 1.30pm, it’s amazing to watch these talented comedians weave their off-the-cuff magic.
Monkey Barrel on Blair Street seats just 100 people, so be careful if you don’t want to be the target of any audience interaction. A really affordable night out, the acts are well staggered to allow for frequent trips to the bar.
The Edinburgh Playhouse is the place to catch top-name touring comedy acts when they come to town. The venue has played host to Amy Schumer, Louis CK, Jack Whitehall, Jimmy Carr, and Catherine Tate, to name just a few.