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A Quick Guide to ALL Edinburgh Festivals in 2021 (There are 11 BTW!)

Edinburgh city is one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions and a travel destination that people flock to from around the world every year. There is plenty to see including a number of historic sites such as Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, the Medieval Old Town the Georgian New Town and so much more (read about all the things to do in Edinburgh & FREE Things to do in Edinburgh here!)
The vibrant culture of the city has also lead to Edinburgh becoming known as one of the world’s leading festival cities. There are now 11 major festivals that take place annually throughout the year for visitors to the city to attend.

If you are planning to visit the historic capital city of Scotland and want to attend one of the Edinburgh Festivals whilst you are there, keep on reading to discover which festivals take place across the city and when – and scroll to the end for advice on the best places to stay in Edinburgh – with options to suit every budget – to help you get the best deals.

Guide to Edinburghs Festivals - view down the Royal Mile

Quick Guide to All 11 Edinburgh Festivals in 2021

Edinburgh International Science Festival

Edinburgh Science Festival
WHEN: 1st April – 16 April 2021
WHERE: Throughout the city including National Museum of Scotland, Market Street & Royal Botanic Garden.

Experience the amazing, at one of the largest science festivals in Europe. Suitable for all the family, this two week event features interactive workshops and talks from some of the greatest minds in science.
More Info & Tickets

Edinburgh International Children’s Festival (aka. Imaginate Festival)

Edinburgh Childrens Festival
25 May – 6 June 2021
WHERE: Traverse Theater, Assembly Roxy, Lyra at Artspace and more.

A festival where kids take over Edinburgh. With a whole range of free pop-up performances, take your kids to see some of the most inspiring theatre and dance from a who range of talented performers. 
More Info & Tickets


Edinburgh International Film Festival

Edinburgh International Film Festival
18 August – 25 August 2021
WHERE: Film House, Festival Theater, Odeon, Traverse Theater and Vue.

Premiering the very best in international film, the Edinburgh International Film Festival was established in 1947. The dynamic programme features everything from documentaries to shorts, along with a range of experimental cinema, in an intimate setting with a sprinkle of red carpet glamour.
More Info & Tickets

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

Edinburgh Jazz festival
WHEN: 16 – 25 July 2021
WHERE: Edinburgh Castle, Assembly Hall, Grassmarket, George Square & more.

Your chance to hear some of the very best in Jazz & Blues, the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival welcomes talented musicians from around the world at over a whopping 170 gigs in some of Edinburgh’s top venues. For a brilliant day out there is something to please everyone from soul to swing, plus a vibrant and exciting open air Mardi Gras carnival.
More Info & Tickets

Edinburgh Art Festival

Edinburgh Art Festival
6 – 30 August 2021
WHERE: City Art Center, The Scottish Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland and more.

With over 40 exhibitions to attend, the Edinburgh Art Festival is the UKs largest visual arts event where you can see everything from historical works to contemporary masterpieces. A chance to see artwork by both established and emerging artists, this innovative festival is spread right across Edinburgh in the city’s museums, galleries, There us also a host of public art too.
More Info & Tickets

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Bagpipes & Drummers at Edinburgh Military Tattoo WHEN: Cancelled in 2020 and 2021.
WHERE: Edinburgh Castle

An iconic institution, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a global gathering that celebrates some of the best musicians around the world. With a different theme every year, over 200,000 visitors flock to Edinburgh to see the military bands and the iconic lone piper set against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle – and last year we got to photograph & video it! (take a peek here!)
More Info & Tickets
RELATED – Edinburgh becomes a true Festival City in August when it plays host to 5(!) festivals throughout the month. If you are visiting at this time have a look at our dedicated guide to Edinburgh in August – it has everything you need to know before you go!


Edinburgh International Festival

Edinburgh Festivals in August - What to know before you go WHEN: 6 – 30 August 2021
WHERE: 12 different venues

Set across six of Edinburgh’s theaters, concert halls and a number of smaller venues a visit to the Edinburgh International Festival is an opportunity to experience some of the world’s very best when it comes to theatre, music, opera and dance. Featuring world premieres, unique collaborations and new takes on some well-known works, there is a performance for everyone at this festival that celebrates both virtuosity and originality.
More Info & Tickets

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Performer at the Fringe Festival Edinburgh WHEN: 6 – 30 August 2021
WHERE: All over the city including the Royal Mile, Grassmarket, Gilded Balloon, Assembly Hall & So many more.

Every summer Edinburgh is transformed during the largest arts festival in the world. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe welcomes thousands of performers who put on hundreds of shows for visitors to enjoy in a range of mediums including theatre, comedy, music, dance and much more. The festival is an opportunity to see both well-known performers and those at the beginning of the artistic career.
More Info & Tickets

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Edinburgh Book Festival
14-30 August 2021
WHERE: Charlotte Square Gardens

A festival for both adults and children alike, featuring over 800 events and renowned authors from across the globe. Visit talks from Nobel Prize Winners, interactive workshops, book signings and much more. Across Edinburgh, there are also three independent bookshops stocking many of the titles featured at the festival.
More Info & Tickets

Scottish International Storytelling Festival

Edinburgh Storytelling Festival
WHEN: 15-31 October 2021
WHERE: Royal Botanic Garden, National Library of Scotland and several others. Check the 2021 program when released in August for more details.

A unique festival, the Scottish International Storytelling Festival is inspired by the Scottish ceilidh tradition that celebrates communities sharing tales and music together. Established in 1989, the festival has grown year on year and now features many engaging activities for all the family to enjoy.
More Info & Tickets

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

Edinburgh Festivals - Woman at Hogmanay
WHEN: 29 December 2021 – 1 January 2022
WHERE: Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street (for the street party) and many more. See the full program here.

Celebrate welcoming the New Year unlike anywhere else. Spanning across three days, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay welcomes visitors from around the world. Visitors can enjoy traditions including a torchlit procession, a music concert against the backdrop of the historic Edinburgh Castle and a spectacular firework display when the clock strikes midnight.
More Info & Tickets



Where to Stay for any of Edinburgh’s Festivals

Edinburgh’s Festival Season can often be some the busiest times of the year (particularly in August when there are 5 Festivals on in one month!) so we highly recommend booking your accommodation as far in advance as you possibly can. Pretty much, once you know you’re going – book. Most hotels also give you a generous cancellation period so if the something was to happen and you couldn’t make your trip, you will still be able to cancel and get your money back.

Balmoral Hotel Edinburgh

Luxury Stay ($350+ per night):

  • The Balmoral Hotel: One of Edinburgh’s top choices for luxury hotels is The Balmoral Hotel. Located on Princes Street in the heart of the city, the hotel features spacious rooms with state-of-the-art facilities, a Michelin-starred restaurant and a spa.

Mid-Range Stay ($100-150+ per night):

Budget Stay ($80-100+ per night):

  • Caravel Guest House: Just a 15 minute walk from Prince’s Street, this guest house is a popular budget accommodation choice. This classic Georgian property features a selection of rooms all with en-suite bathrooms and WIFI available throughout.

Best For Families ($200-250+ per night):

  • Calton Hill Apartment: For flexible family accommodation you can’t go wrong with the Calton Hill Apartment, where you can explore the center of the city with your little ones and enjoy the convenience of self-catering accommodation.

For Backpackers ($12-16+ per night):

  • Royal Mile Backpackers: If you are visiting Edinburgh with nothing but your backpack, you are going to want to get booked into the renowned Royal Mile Backpackers. Just a five minute walk from the station, choose from mixed or female only dormitories. This hostel also features laundry facilities and a kitchen.

No matter what your interests, there is a festival for everyone in Edinburgh. With all the key information you need to decide which one is right for you and a low down on where is best to stay in the city, we hope our guide has helped you make a start to planning your Edinburgh city break.

Have you visited any of these festivals before? We would love to hear what you thought of them in the comments below.

A Quick Guide to All 11 Edniburgh Festivals:


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