Edinburgh's festivals

Edinburgh in August is the festival city. Here is a guide to the many festivals which occur throughout the summer.

Festival name


What is it?

leaving planet earth

Edinburgh International Festival

9 August to 1 September

The original Edinburgh festival. It all began in 1947 with the launch of the Edinburgh International Festival, which aimed to provide "a platform for the flowering of the human spirit".

More than 60 years on, the festival presents a rich programme of classical music, theatre, opera and dance in major theatres and concert halls and a number of smaller venues.

The key venues are the Usher Hall, the Festival Theatre, The Edinburgh Playhouse, the King's Theatre, the Royal Lyceum Theatre, The Queen's Hall and The Hub.

fringe leaflets on telephone box

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

2 August to 26 August

The largest arts festival in the world. Eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to the first Edinburgh International Festival in 1947 and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was born.

The 2013 Fringe programme features 45,464 performances of 2,871 shows in a total of 273 venues across the city.

Last year, more than 1.8 million tickets were sold over the three weeks of the Fringe.

The Fringe is completely open-access and performances are a mixture of theatre, comedy, music, dance and children's entertainment.

Many performers use the Fringe as a place to launch new material.

nick barley

Edinburgh International Book Festival

10 to 26 August

The Edinburgh International Book Festival began in 1983 and is now a key part of the festival season.

At first it was biennial but it became a yearly celebration in 1997.

The festival now programmes more than 700 events with about 800 authors, including high profile debates and discussions.

The book festival's home is Charlotte Square Gardens in the west of Edinburgh's Georgian New Town.

The tented village welcomed about 220,000 people last August.

edinburgh tattoo

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

2 August to 24 August

The Edinburgh Tattoo first took place in 1949 and it has been run like a military operation ever since.

Last year, a new amphitheatre with a capacity of about 8,800 was unveiled.

More than 200,000 people watch the spectacle on the esplanade at Edinburgh Castle.

About 70% of each audience comes from outside Scotland, half of these from overseas.

muddy waters

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival

18 July to 28 July

Two years ago, the jazz and blues festival moved to a new slot, just before the congested festival month of August. The Jazz and Blues Festival is a celebration of all things jazz, bringing some of the world's best performers to Edinburgh.

The 33rd festival will bring jazz to venues throughout the city.

peter liversidge flags

Edinburgh Art Festival

1 August to 1 September

The festival ranges across 50 arts spaces from museums to galleries and more unusual spaces. It attracts leading contemporary artists as well as emerging artists. It also has an extensive collection of retrospective exhibitions.

edinburgh mela

Edinburgh Mela

31 August to 1 September

The Mela - a showcase for the talents of the city's ethnic minorities - is returning to the Leith links venue it made its home for the past two years.

It is held over the final weekend of the Edinburgh festival month, after the Fringe has ended.

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