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Festivals in Edinburgh

International Festivals for a Global Audience

It’s safe to say the residents of Edinburgh are spoilt when it comes to festivals. The summer festival season plays host to dozens of varied festivals, from the huge Edinburgh Festival Fringe, to the many smaller festivals. There are also countless other festivals during the rest of the year, including the very popular Hogmanay festivities.

Unsurprisingly, the festivals are hugely important to the Edinburgh tourism industry, with ticket sales of over four million for Edinburgh Festival Fringe alone. Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh Art Festival, Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and Edinburgh Highland Show also attract thousands of visitors from around the world. 

Other festivals that aren’t quite on the same scale as the main festivals, but still have a dedicated following include the Edinburgh Mela, a festival of world culture; iFest, a technology-centric festival; and the Leith Festival, which mostly focuses on art and entertainment by the local community. All of these festivals have carved out their own little niche in the wide-ranging Edinburgh festival scene.

Edinburgh is always jam-packed by the time festival season rolls around, and every hotel in the city will be fit to burst. This is why it’s essential to book your hotel well in advance of the festival you’re attending. However, even if you’re only able to make it to one of festivals for the day, it’s definitely worth making a visit to the Scottish capital.

We’ve put together a guide to the biggest and best festivals that take place in Edinburgh every year...

Edinburgh Fringe
Edinburgh Fringe

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The World’s Biggest Arts Festival

Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest festival in Edinburgh, and is widely regarded to be the world’s biggest arts festival. It was originally a sideshow to the International Festival but has since far surpassed the original.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Image of Edinburgh International Festival Fireworks Courtesy of Edinburgh Blog Via Flickr
Image of Edinburgh International Festival Fireworks Courtesy of Edinburgh Blog Via Flickr

Edinburgh International Festival

The Original Edinburgh Arts Festival

First held in 1947, the three week festival was originally designed to ‘provide a platform for the flowering human spirit’. It primarily showcases classical music, opera and theatre, with each of the show’s performers invited to the festival.

Edinburgh International Festival
Image of Festival Theatre Courtesy of Magnus Hagdorn Via Flickr
Image of Festival Theatre Courtesy of Magnus Hagdorn Via Flickr

Edinburgh International Film Festival

The World’s Oldest Continually Running Film Festival

Shown alongside the Edinburgh International Festival since its very first year in 1947, the EIFF has been the opening festival of the season since 2008. The EIFF includes documentaries, foreign films and short films.

Edinburgh International Film Festival
Image of Edinburgh International Book Festival Courtesy of Ben Snooks Via Flickr
Image of Edinburgh International Book Festival Courtesy of Ben Snooks Via Flickr

Edinburgh International Book Festival

A Gathering of Many of the World’s Best Authors

Held since 1983, the Edinburgh International Book Festival takes place in the picturesque Charlotte Square, and brings together many of the world’s leading authors for lively debate and discussion.

International Book Festival
Display at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Display at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Amazing Displays of Skill, Precision and Teamwork

Taking place in resplendent surroundings at Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Military Tattoo is a series of displays by Scottish, British and foreign military regiments. It is one of the most consistently well received festivals in the city.

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

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20 North Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1TR, Tel: +44 (0) 131 556 5565, Fax: +44 (0) 131 652 3652 , reservations@thescotsmanhotel.co.uk