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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 19 January, 2023
Expert travel writer: Lucy Gillmore

Edinburgh sizzles with festival fever during the summer and the choice is mind-boggling. The Edinburgh Festival is actually four festivals running concurrently – the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh Art Festival, and Edinburgh International Book Festival. Big-venue acts are flown in for the International Festival; the Edinburgh Fringe sees a mad medley of more than 3,000 offbeat comedy, music, and dance acts.

The world’s largest arts festival – four festivals in one – turns Scotland’s conservative capital into a show-stopping prima donna. and theatre acts. The Royal Mile becomes a swirling sea of impromptu performances, face painters and tourists.

It’s crowded and crazy, so accept it or avoid it. The season is unmissable – dip in and out, and enjoy an exhausting but exhilarating maelstrom.

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
Frequency: annually
When: August
Duration: 1 month

Getting there & doing it

There are performances all over the city. The Fringe alone has shows in around 300 venues. The Book Festival camps out in the Edinburgh College of Art, while the International Festival uses more mainstream theatres.

Tickets are sold well in advance by individual venues over the phone and online – Book Festival tickets, for example, go on sale at the end of June. Sign up to festival sites for advance notice of ticket sales.

If you arrive without a booking, head to the Fringe Shop on the Royal Mile and join the queues snaking down the street. Many fringe shows have unreserved seating, so turn up early for a place at the front of the queue. There are plenty of free shows on offer, discounted tickets, and 2-for-1 ticket deals. Also swing by the Fringe Half-Price Hut for 50% off performances happening that day.

When to do it

All the festivals take place in or around August, with slightly different dates. The dates also vary annually.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Cheval Abbey Strand

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

History-steeped aparthotel with contemporary designer interiors, perfectly located for sightseeing at the bottom of the Royal Mile.

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Cheval Old Town Chambers

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Chic, contemporary design and a family and pet-friendly ethos come as standard in these luxury apartments in Edinburgh’s medieval Old Town.

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The Dunstane Houses

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Small, sumptuous family-owned boutique hotel with a home-from-home vibe – and free parking – a short stroll from Edinburgh’s attractions.

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Eden Locke

Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

A hip aparthotel in Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town, with shops and restaurants on the doorstep.

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience


Edinburgh Region, United Kingdom (UK)

Capital treats abound, from mighty castles and royal palaces to gourmet restaurants and arguably the world’s best performing arts festival.

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