Look out Rio – Edinburgh is quickly taking over as the world’s most festive city. Whatever the season, there’s always something to celebrate in this thriving cultural capital. Here’s your guide to the best Edinburgh festivals held throughout the year:
Though it’s grown into one of Europe’s most renowned film festivals, EIFF has kept its intimate charm. Film stars and red carpets aside, it remains devoted to showcasing the year’s best films from across the globe. Its resume for UK premieres includes ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, ‘The Hurt Locker’ and ‘Brave’.
June | www.edfilmfest.org.uk
Since its founding year in 1978, the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival has expanded and grown into one of the UK’s top music events. In addition to the many jazz, blues and swing music shows held in venues across the city, the Jazz Festival also includes a ‘Carnival!’ parade along Princes Street and Princes Street Gardens.
Opera, ballet, classical music, threatre – the Edinburgh International Festival has it all and offers it at the highest possible standard. It’s where the very best Scottish and international performers go to showcase their brilliant works of performance art. Founded in the wake of WWII, the Edinburgh International Festival continues to enrich cultural life in Scotland, the UK and throughout Europe. Many of the festivals on this list are events included within the wider Edinburgh International Festival.
The Edinburgh International Festival runs from 7th – 31st August 2015 – don’t miss it!
August | www.eif.co.uk
This is the big one. If you say ‘the Festival’, people will assume you mean the Fringe – once a tiny offshoot of the Edinburgh International Festival that’s since grown into the largest arts festival in the world. Every year the Fringe doubles Edinburgh’s population and transforms it into a giant open-air theatre. Venues crop up around every corner, showing plays, gigs and, most famously, plenty of fantastic comedy.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival runs from 7th – 31st August 2015 – don’t miss it!
August | www.edfringe.com
This world-renowned military parade couldn’t take place in a better venue: the Edinburgh Castle itself. The Tattoo features military bands and performers from the Scottish Regiments as well as those from across the globe. Every show ends with an impressive fireworks display over the Castle.
August | www.edintattoo.co.uk
Named as UNESCO’s first ‘City of Literature’ in 2006, Edinburgh has a rich literary heritage. The city has inspired poets and authors throughout history, including Robert Burns, James Hogg, JM Barrie, Ian Rankin and JK Rowling. The Edinburgh International Book Festival, based in the gardens of Charlotte’s Square, highlights the best of Scottish literature, as well as the works of authors from across the globe.
August | www.edbookfest.co.uk
Fresh off the International Book Festival in August, the Scottish International Storytelling Festival is yet another chance to explore the city’s fascinating literary culture. As the name implies, the focus of this festival is on the oral tradition of storytelling. The 10-day celebration features storytelling events for every age range and genre, as well as workshops, lectures and exhibitions on the art of storytelling.
October | www.ScottishStorytellingCentre.co.uk
This traditional Gaelic festival, a precursor to the modern day tradition of ‘Halloween’, celebrates the transition from summer to winter. Dressed in elaborate costumes, performers from Edinburgh’s Beltane Fire Society parade down the Royal Mile and act out the story of a standoff between the King of Summer and the King of Winter.
31 October | www.beltanefiresociety.wordpress.com
Experience Edinburgh at its picture-postcard cosiest. Starting at the end of November, the official ‘Edinburgh Christmas’ celebrations transform the city into a winter wonderland. Ice skate under castle views, sip mugs of spiced Glühwein and find the perfect gifts in the authentic European Christmas markets. There’s no better place to spend a merry Christmas, or as they say in Scots Gaelic — a Blythe Yule!
November & December | www.edinburghschristmas.com
We’re not just being biased when we say Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is the world’s best New Year party. There’s no better way to celebrate Scotland’s historic Hogmanay tradition than on the streets of its capital city. Tens of thousands of locals and visitors gather on Princes Street for a concert of A-list musicians, followed by a brilliant fireworks display over the Castle at midnight.
December/January | www.edinburghshogmanay.org
One of Europe’s largest celebrations of science and technology, the Edinburgh International Science Festival is an opportunity for people of all ages to discover the natural wonders of the world around them. The two-week festival features science-related events and exhibitions across the city.
April | www.sciencefestival.co.uk
To celebrate the ancient Gaelic May Day Festival of Beltane, Edinburgh’s Beltane Fire Society hosts a large, vibrant procession of costumed performers and torchbearers around Calton Hill. Around 12,000 people gather each year to experience the drumming, choreography and theatre of Beltane. Audience members are invited to join in the festivities, dancing and celebrating into the wee hours of morning.
30 April | www.beltanefiresociety.wordpress.com