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05th May 2019 Angela Upex

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city

Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital and the world’s Festival City. If it’s worth celebrating, there’s a festival in Edinburgh dedicated to it! From books to ceilidhs, science to comedy, there’s always something going on.

Cultural explosion

The Edinburgh Festival is a generic term used to describe the cultural explosion which takes place in the city every summer.

The world’s largest arts festival transforms Scotland’s capital every August, as thousands of performers take to hundreds of stages all over the city to present shows of all kinds and for every taste.

Dating back to 1947, the Edinburgh International Festival was established after World War II to create “a flowering of the human spirit” in the Scottish capital. In that same year the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh International Film Festival also started.

Festivals in Edinburgh

With not one but nine festivals to choose from between late July and early September, Edinburgh offers an extravaganza of world-class entertainment

With not one but nine festivals to choose from between late July and early September, Edinburgh offers an extravaganza of world-class entertainment.

With the International Festival, Festival Fringe, Book Festival, International Film Festival, Military Tattoo, Jazz Festival, Art Festival, Edinburgh Mela and Festival of Politics, the city streets buzz with music and performers from around the world.

The work on show ranges from huge names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers.

Other festivals followed, from military grandeur to intimate jazz and blues, captivating science to underground theatre and children’s entertainment. As these festivals grew into world leading celebrations, international excellence in art, culture and science became a permanent and inescapable part of Edinburgh’s identity.

Springtime sees Ceilidh Culture and the International Science Festival provide the entertainment, while the Beltane Fire Festival sets the city skyline alight with an exuberant mix of fire, costume, drums and pagan ritual.

During the summer festivals the city’s population doubles in size. Performers mill the streets in their stage costumes, street entertainers delight the bustling crowds on the Royal Mile and visitors from around the world arrive to enjoy this unique atmosphere with the non-stop café culture and nightlife adding to the buzz of the city.

Scotland’s capital city is transformed and invigorated during the month of August, when both the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe bring a whole host of performers and visitors with them.

Enjoy music performances from jazz to classical; contemporary dance and ballet; cutting edge and traditional theatre, as well as sparkling wit and alternative comedy. And don’t miss the chance to view some of the finest films that the industry offers, and to hear internationally-renowned authors read from and discuss their latest work with a live audience.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This year’s Fringe features work from a record 63 countries, including 206 shows from mainland Europe. With themes ranging from climate change to true crime, space to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic identity, this year’s festival tackles the most topical issues in the world today and brings together the best upcoming talent, well-known names, new venues and international work.

In order to help audiences navigate the festival and take a chance on something new, the Fringe Society have introduced the Inspiration Machine, an interactive, arcade-style machine that will randomly display videos from Fringe artists at the push of a button. The Inspiration Machine will be located on the Mound throughout August as well as online, and Fringe-goers young and old will be invited to roll up and see all that the Fringe has to offer.

Also new for 2019 is the FringeMaker game, which will encourage visitors to explore different venues, see shows and tackle random Fringe challenges using a dedicated web-based app. In true treasure hunt style, players will be rewarded for breaking new ground and discovering hidden top hats located in each of the over 300 venues taking part in this year’s festival.

A fantastic starting point for any Fringe-goer, the Virgin Money Street Events on the High Street and Mound Precinct will bring together 250 free shows a day from the world’s greatest street performers for all the family to enjoy. Every Saturday shows on the West Parliament Square Stage will be fully BSL interpreted and, with dedicated wheelchair viewing spaces and sensory backpacks for visitors on the autism spectrum, the street will be more accessible than ever before this year.

Winter Festivals

Later in the year, the city comes alive during the Winter Festivals. With bright, crisp days and long, haunting nights, Edinburgh takes on a magical quality at this time of year. The month-long Edinburgh’s Christmas sees the city’s streets sparkle with the glow from half a million Christmas lights, creating a truly magical experience.

The climax of Edinburgh’s winter festivals is the celebrated Hogmanay street party in Princes Street, when thousands gather to enjoy music and fireworks and join in arguably the world’s best New Year celebrations.

As home to the most vibrant calendar of international festivals and events, you can be sure that there’s something to tempt you during your stay in Edinburgh.

There’s so much going on during August, so here are the important Festival and Fringe dates.

Dates for your diary

Edinburgh International Festival 2-26 August 2019

Edinburgh International Science Festival  
6-21 April 2019

Edinburgh International Children’s Festival 
25 May-1 June 2019

Edinburgh International Film Festival
19-30 June 2019

Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival 
12-21 July 2019

Edinburgh Art Festival
25 July-25 August 2019

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
2-24 August 2019

Edinburgh Festival Fringe
2-26 August 2019

Edinburgh International Book Festival
10-26 August 2019

Scottish International Storytelling Festival 
18-31 October 2019

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay  
30 December 2019-1 January 2020

Everything you need to know about Edinburgh

Where to eat in Edinburgh

The best things to do in Edinburgh

The best shopping in Edinburgh

The best nightlife in Edinburgh

Your guide to arts and culture in Edinburgh

Image credits: ©Ivica Drusany/Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society; Skully/

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