The Top Annual Festivals in Edinburgh

more than a year ago
As Scotland’s capital, it is no surprise that Edinburgh is also the home to a host of top calibre festivals that keep tourists and locals on their toes all year round. Whether you like film, books, art or are looking for a good laugh, Edinburgh’s got you covered.
Here are Edinburgh’s top 10 annual festivals and events.

Edinburgh International Film Festival
Next: 17th - 28th June 2020

The mission of the Edinburgh Film Festival is to ‘be at the forefront of developing a vibrant and successful film and moving image industry and culture across Scotland’. In 2019 it showcased 121 new features, including UK, European, international and world premieres with 70,000 festival attendees as well as 15,000 weekend screening attendees. It was founded by John Grierson, who is also the founder of the British documentary film movement and in fact at first, it was the International Festival of Documentary Film. The full programme for the 74th festival is not yet confirmed, however, a new program called Scotland’s Shore was already announced. Its aims to show some of the greatest moments in Scottish film history on the shores of the Forth. Definitely keep your eyes peeled on the website and social media to keep up to date with the program.

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Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival
Next: 17th - 26th July 2020
Location: Several venues all over Edinburgh

This festival was first set up by the Banjo player Mike Hart in 1978 and celebrates all things 'Jazz and Blues' with various performances and concerts all over Edinburgh. In 2019 over 170 gigs took place in the city that spanned all decades of Jazz as well as Southern blues, delta blues, electric blues, acoustic blues, Chicago blues and Mississippi blues. One thing you should not miss out on is the vibrant Edinburgh Festival Carnival that happens on the opening weekend of the festival.
While waiting for the 2020 program, have a look at the festivals YouTube channel to get a glimpse of what the festival is like.

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Edinburgh International Festival
Next: 07th - 31st August 2020

Over three weeks, this festival celebrates the performing arts from various cultures all around the world and presents Scotland’s culture to an international audience. The performances include theatre, classical music, dance, and top-class opera. In 2019 420,000 attendees from more than 79 nations enjoyed the program. The diversity of the program will ensure that everyone finds something that leaves them stunned and inspired. To shorten your wait, check out the festivals YouTube channel where you can catch a glimpse into past festivals.

Find out more via:
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Edinburgh Art Festival
Next: 30th July - 30th August 2020

Edinburgh’s leading galleries, museums and artist-run spaces are brought together by this festival. It was first started in 2004 and since then has been showcasing local as well as international artists whose art targets a variety of subject.This festival is a stunning visual experience and a must for every art lover.
The festival also has a wonderful online shop that features items such as tote bags, pins and prints which are not just for festival-goers. The programme for 2020 is not yet announced, but the website lists interesting exhibitions that take place outside of the festival schedule, so definitely check those out!

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The Royal Military Tattoo
Next: 7th - 29th August 2020
Location: Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NG

One of Edinburgh’s biggest and most famous annual events is the much loved Royal Military Tattoo continues to astound attendees with music, dance  and precision display performed by The British Armed Forces, international military forces from the 'Commonwealth' as well as artistic performance teams. It is rooted in Scottish tradition with performers from all around the world celebrating world-class public military events with the purpose being to ‘promote a sense of identity and unity’.
The beginnings of the Royal Military Tattoo can be found in 1949 at the Ross Bandstand where a show called ‘Something About a Soldier’ was put on. The first official Royal Military Tattoo then followed in 1950 with about 6,000 attendees. Since then it has grown somewhat, in 2018 200,000 people got to enjoy the tattoo over several nights with about 100 million  watching on television every year.

To get an idea of the magic of the Royal Military Tattoo, check out the official YouTube channel.
Tickets for 2020 go on sale online on the 2nd December 2019 at 10 am with accessible tickets being available as well. Several exclusive ticket packages are also available via the official website.

For more information on the accessibility of the venue as well as the approaching, queuing and permitted items visit https://www.edintattoo.co.uk/the-venue.

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Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Next: 7th - 31st August 2020
Location: Several venues all over Edinburgh

One of the first events  most people  think of when Edinburgh is mentioned is the much loved  Fringe Festival. It is the biggest celebration of arts and culture worldwide and features musicals, opera, theatre, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret and exhibitions. Themes covered in 2019 were the climate crisis, disability, working-class representation, mental health and well-being, as well as minority ethnic identity.
For anyone on a budget, this is a great festival since there are a lot of street performances and free events.
You can find out more about free performances here. In 2019, the art industry, media, audiences and artists brought people from over 150 countries to the festival with over 2800 shows.
The program for the 2020 Fringe Festival is yet to be announced, so keep up to date via their website and socials.

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Edinburgh International Book Festival
Next: To be announced
Location: Charlotte Square Garden and the west end of George Street

Scotland has a rich literary history,  it loves books and all things reading.  Wigtown, Scotland’s official book town is home to the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which is the largest of its kind worldwide. It was first started in 1983, but only became an annual celebration in 1997. Every year a tented village arises right in the vibrant heart of Edinburgh. This year it brought together 250,000 visitors of all ages, background and interests looking for inspiration, discussion and entertainment. In 2019, more than 800 events took place with 900 authors from over 60 countries participating. Among these were household names such as Sue Perkins, Kate Atkinson, Malorie Blackman, John Boyne, Mark Haddon, David Nicholls and Holly Black.
The prices vary according to the event. Most adult prices are up to £15, while kids were up to £5. Concession prices are available, more information can be found on the official website.

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Edinburgh International Children’s Festival
Next: To be announced
Location: To be announced

You are lucky if you find yourself in Edinburgh during the time of the International Children’s Festival with its various performances and showcases making the experience in the city extra special.
The aim is to engage and inspire children as well as to ‘develop their creativity, emotional intelligence and reach their true potential’. In 2019 the Children’s Festival celebrated with 15 productions from 8 countries, free pop-up performances, art activities, live music, walk-about performances, hands-on art activities and storytelling at the National Museum of Scotland. Started in 1990 it now welcomes 10,000 families, schools and artists.
For more information, keep up to date with the festival via social media.

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Edinburgh’s Christmas
Next: 16th November 2019 - 4th January 2020
Location: To be confirmed

If you absolutely love Christmas there is only one place to be in the Winter and that is Edinburgh. The festival presents six weeks full of various festivities that will make the cold season extra special. The program for this year’s festival is still to be announced, so keep an eye out on their website and social media pages. In the past, it celebrated winter with the famous Christmas Market in the East Princes Street Gardens, concerts and art displays.

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Edinburgh Hogmanay
Next: 30th December 2019 - 1stJanuary 2020
Location: Several locations all over Edinburgh

The word Hogmanay is Scottish for the last day of the year and the Scots really know how to celebrate it! A torchlight procession is held on 30th December  which starts the celebration in the right way. This is followed by a street party on 31st December. 
This year’s celebrations in the Gardens on 31st December are hosted by Grammy and Oscar Award winner Mark Ronson. Promising the ultimate party playlist and the best views of the fireworks over Edinburgh Castle this might just be the  way to end 2019 and start 2020. You can find more information about ticket sales here:
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