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Edinburgh Festival

Last updated: 06 February, 2024

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: 0
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.