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A Quick Guide To The 11 Major Edinburgh Festivals in 2024

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Updated: 11th March 2024

Edinburgh is one of the most spectacular and storied cities in the world. Between its history, the warmth of the Scottish people, the grand architecture and the ever-increasing creative scene, it’s a true rival to London for your UK visit. Better still, this is one of the most creative cities in the world, hosting multiple cultural festivals throughout the year.

Most people know about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, of course. But there are actually eleven major festivals held throughout the year, alongside plenty of smaller and equally fascinating events. So, if you are planning a visit to Edinburgh, try to time your trip to catch one.

1. Edinburgh International Science Festival

30th March 2024 – 14th April 2024

The annual calendar starts with one of Europe’s largest Science Festivals, which has workshops, performances, screenings and exhibitions for all ages. Whether you want to keep the kids entertained, are a technical buff or just want to learn about cutting-edge technologies, this two-week event is a great place to do so.

This year, they will also be running GastroFest, a foodie festival that focuses on the link between food and science. It includes cocktail-making classes and unique dining experiences.

2. Edinburgh International Childrens Festival

25th May 2024 – 2nd June 2024

The great thing about the Edinburgh Festival calendar is that it really caters to all ages and interests in the arts. Geared up, especially for children and young people, this event showcases talent from around the world. Theatre, Dance, and Music are all represented, so if you have a child with an interest in the arts, this is a must-do.

Best Edinburgh Attractions

3. Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

12th July 2024 – 21st July 2024

If you have an ear for the smooth sounds of Jazz, then grab yourself a ticket to this July event. From rock through to Samba and soul, and with many free open-air concerts (weather permitting), you can hear both old and respected talent and newcomers at over 150 different gigs throughout the city.

4. Edinburgh Festival Fringe

2nd August 2024 – 26th August 2024

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is likely the one you have heard of. Taking over underground pub basements, theatre venues, the Royal Mile and pretty much anywhere someone can call a performance space.

While some of these shows are free, a donation at the end is always appreciated. The sheer scale and volume of performances that are put on each year, allowing new talent to be exposed, are what makes this festival so unique. Wherever you are into magic, comedy, interactive theatre or more traditional performances, you will find something to enjoy in the big fat guidebook, and then just rock up 30 minutes before the show starts.

Edinburgh Festivals Photo Guide
Edinburgh Festival Royal Tattoo

5. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

2nd August 2024 – 24th August 2024

This show blew my mind, and if you splurge on one thing during your summer visit, make it The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. With an impressive fireworks show, army bands from around the world and a great vibe, this outdoor spectacle is set against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.

6. Edinburgh International Festival

2nd August 2024 – 25th August 2024

The International Festival runs alongside the Fringe, but many of the shows are ticketed and curated rather than free. This year, it featured a star-studded lineup, including Alan Cummings. Each year, the programme varies, so check out their website in advance. Unlike the Fringe, it is advisable to book tickets prior to arrival.

7. Edinburgh Art Festival

9th August 2024 -25th August 2024

August is when the magic really kicks off in Edinburgh, with four festivals running alongside each other. The Edinburgh Art Festival isn’t restricted to classics in galleries but takes over the whole city and even some of the country towns beyond.

With modern art in underground passages, walking tours of installations, and some exclusive artist-run spaces, this gives a brilliant platform for all kinds of art to be presented. When I was walking through the city, I was amazed at how much had just been dotted around for anyone to see for free.

Jupiter Artland Scotland
Jupiter Artland is one of the Art Festival’s Venues

8. Edinburgh International Book Festival

10th August 2024 – 25h Augst 2024

A book festival? It might sound a little dull, but this huge garden and tented area does a lot more than just retail paperbacks.

With daily talks, Q&A’s with writers and workshops for all ages, if you like to get lost in the pages, this is a great place to pick up some new reads and discover new authors. Some of the talks are paid, but entry to the area itself is free (as is book browsing).

9. Edinburgh International Film Festival

15th August 2024 – 21st August 2024

The Film Festival is famous worldwide for its impact on filmmaking on a global scale. With some groundbreaking documentaries, short films, and unique cinema styles on offer, this is an awesome event to see upcoming talent really taking the stage.

10. Scottish International Storytelling Festival

18th October 2024 – 31st October 2024

As a writer in a world where fewer and fewer people read to be moved and just concentrate on facts, the Storytelling festival is a real treat. With local and international names sharing tales, songs, and poems, it is a true celebration of everything so important about the written word and keeps the magic of these stories alive.

The start of the torchlight procession in Edinburgh
The start of the torchlight procession in Edinburgh

11. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

29th December 2024 – 1st January 2024

If you want a unique New Year’s Eve, look no further than Edinburgh’s three-day Hogmanay celebrations taking over the whole city.

With nonstop entertainment, the famous Shetland Vikings fire-lit torch procession, the buzzing Christmas markets, and, of course, the fireworks, this is one party that rings in a new year with style and is worthy of a spot on your bucket list.

Where else in the world is better to sing Auld Lang Syne at midnight?

Want some tips on how to save money in Scotland? Check out my guide to Edinburgh Festivals on a Budget


Accommodation can jump hugely in price during the Festival season, so advance booking is a great idea. Here are two options I tested out that don’t need to cost a bomb. If you plan to explore more of the country, check out these unusual places to stay in Scotland.

SYHA Edinburgh Metro Hostel: Don’t panic! This isn’t your typical dorm hostel. During the summer months, this University city hands many of its campus flats over to the SYHA to manage, which means you can score your own room (shared bathroom) within a flat right in the heart of the city for around £50 a night, which given how expensive hotels can jump is a great option. For me, it was better than a hostel as you still get a private room with plenty of space, your own wardrobe and desk, and access to the flat kitchen, so you don’t have to eat out every day.

Motel One: There are two of these chic, German-based hotels in the city offering really chic designed rooms at a lower price than most boutique hotels. Don’t let the Motel name fool you, with plush bedding, designer features, amazing showers and a great breakfast buffet this is much more of a 4* hotel experience than a motel. Rooms start from £59 a night during the off-season but can rise higher, especially if booked last minute before the festival.


By Train: If you are already starting your journey in the UK, then a train might be the best way to get up here. Our trains can be expensive and packed, but if you book in advance, you can usually score a good price and get a seat reservation (try and go for one with a table for a charger, as it could be a long ride). I love using The Train Line as a starting point for finding great fares.

By Air: Edinburgh has a great airport located not far from the city, and there is also an airport in Glasgow. Both serve International routes as far as Asia with both budget and legacy carries. Check out Skyscanner as it allows you to hunt down the cheapest flight deals – I have a super handy post on the best ways to get cheap flights as a good starting point.

10 replies
  1. Mahima says:

    love to be there. Amazing shots. I’ll surely try to visiting Edinburgh soon. Thanks for sharing this to us.

  2. David Ede says:

    Excellent summary Dan, but you omitted the Beltane Fire Festival? Night of 30th April through to dawn of the 1st of May, Calton Hill, Edinburgh. Celebrating the end of winter, return of summer and renewal of life heralded by the sun, all in the Celtic tradition.

  3. April Hope says:

    What a great post! I love your blog in general, but I think this is my favorite post. I tend to look for the most romantic places to visit (since I blog about romance & travel) but it’s good for me to get out of my comfort zone and find new ways to have adventures I might not normally try. You’ve given me some good ideas for planning my next trip. Thank you!

  4. Simon Harding says:

    I’m heading up to Edinburgh tomorrow: can’t wait. No festivals on, just the city’s world-famous welcome to look forward to! BTW you are absolutely right about the accommodation costs during festival time! GULP!

    • Simon Harding says:

      we had a great time – a walk up to the Observatory, a tour round Edinburgh Gin Distillery, the Sheep’s Heid pub for old style bowling and a magic show courtesy of MagicFest, at the George Square Theatre, were just a few of the highlights! Of course then Easyjet cancelled our flight and we had the choice of cancelling our life for the next three days or drive back to London on New Year’s Eve – if we didn’t have the kids with us it might have been different – life is MUCH easier when you fly solo! I only hope that Easyjet are going to be honourable about the whole thing!

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