Edinburgh and the Lothians

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Edinburgh and the Lothians - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Edinburgh Festival Fringe

    Old Town

    During the world's largest arts festival in August, most of the city center becomes one huge performance area, with fire eaters, sword swallowers, unicyclists, jugglers, string quartets, jazz groups, stand-up comedians, and magicians all thronging into High Street and Princes Street. Every available performance space—church halls, community centers, parks, sports fields, nightclubs, and more—is utilized for every kind of event, with something for all tastes. There are even family-friendly shows. Many events are free; others start at a few pounds and rise to £15 or £20. There's so much happening in the three weeks of the festival that it's possible to arrange your own entertainment program from early morning to after midnight. Be aware that hotels get booked up months in advance during the Fringe and bargains are virtually impossible to come by, so plan your trip as far in advance as possible.

    180 High St., Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH1 1QS, Scotland
  • 2. Edinburgh's Hogmanay

    Old Town

    Nowadays most capital cities put on decent New Year's celebrations, but Edinburgh's three-day-long Hogmanay festivities are on a whole other level. There's a reason this city is famous around the world as the best place to ring in the New Year. Yes, it's winter and yes, it's chilly, but joining a crowd of 80,000 people in a monster street party, complete with big-name rock concerts, torchlight processions, ceilidh dancing, and incredible fireworks, is something you won't forget in a hurry. The headline city center events are ticketed (and can be pricey), but there are free First Footin' parties happening all over the city.

    Princes St., Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH2 3AA, Scotland

    Arts/Entertainment Details

    Rate Includes: Street party from £22.50
  • 3. Beltane Fire Festival


    Held every year on April 30, this flame-filled Calton Hill extravaganza is inspired by an Iron Age Celtic festival, which was held to celebrate the return of summer. Expect drumbeat processions, bonfires, and fireworks, as costumed fire dancers reveal the fates of the May Queen and the Green Man.

    Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH7 5AA, Scotland
  • 4. Cameo Picturehouse


    Cameo has one large and two small auditoriums, both of which are extremely comfortable, showing a good mix of mainstream and art-house films. There's also a bar serving snacks late into the evening.

    38 Home St., Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH3 9LZ, Scotland
  • 5. Church Hill Theatre

    The intimate, 335-seat Church Hill Theatre, managed by the city council, hosts high-quality productions by local amateur dramatic societies.

    Morningside Rd., Edinburgh, EH10 4DR, Scotland
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  • 6. Edinburgh International Book Festival

    New Town

    This two-week-long event held every August pulls together a heady mix of authors from around the world, including Nobel laureates and best-selling fiction writers, and gets them talking about their work in a magnificent tent village. There are more than 750 events in total, with the workshops for would-be writers and children proving hugely popular.

    5 Charlotte Sq., Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH2 4DR, Scotland
  • 7. Edinburgh International Festival

    Old Town

    Running throughout August, this flagship traditional arts festival attracts international performers and audiences to a celebration of music, dance, theater, opera, and art. Programs, tickets, and reservations are available from the Hub, set within the impressive Victorian-Gothic Tolbooth Kirk. Tickets for the festival go on sale in April, and the big events sell out within the month. Nevertheless, you'll still be able to purchase tickets for some events during the festival; prices range from around £4 to £60.

    348–350 Castlehill, Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH1 2NE, Scotland
  • 8. Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival


    Held over a week in late July, the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival attracts world-renowned musicians playing everything from blues-rock to soul music, and brings local enthusiasts out of their living rooms and into the pubs, clubs, and Spiegeltents (pop-up performance spaces) around the city.

    89 Giles St., Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH6 6BZ, Scotland
  • 9. Edinburgh Playhouse

    Big-ticket concerts and musicals, along with the occasional ballet and opera production, are staged at the popular Playhouse, with its enormous 3,000-seat auditorium.

    18–22 Greenside Pl., Edinburgh, EH1 3AA, Scotland
  • 10. Edinburgh Science Festival

    Old Town

    Held around Easter each year, the Edinburgh Science Festival is one of Europe's largest, and aims to make science accessible, interesting, and fun for kids (and adults) through an extensive program of innovative exhibitions, workshops, performances, and screenings.

    348–350 Castlehill, Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH1 2NE, Scotland
  • 11. Festival Theatre

    This popular theater hosts regular pop concerts, as well as musical theater, opera, and ballet productions.

    13–29 Nicolson St., Edinburgh, EH8 9FT, Scotland
  • 12. King's Theatre

    Built in 1906 and adorned with vibrant murals by artist John Byrne, the art nouveau King's Theatre has a great program of contemporary dramatic works.

    2 Leven St., Edinburgh, EH3 9LQ, Scotland
  • 13. The Lyceum

    Traditional plays and contemporary works, including previews or tours of London West End productions, are presented here.

    30b Grindlay St., Edinburgh, EH3 9AX, Scotland
  • 14. The Queen's Hall


    This intimate venue hosts a range of music events, from indie and rock concerts to jazz and classical music recitals.

    85--89 Clerk St., Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH8 9JG, Scotland
  • 15. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

    Old Town

    It may not be art, but The Tattoo (as it's commonly known) is at the very heart of Scottish cultural life. Taking place, like many of the city's festivals, during August, this celebration of martial music features international military bands, gymnastics, and stunt motorcycle teams on the castle esplanade. Each year 22,000 seats are made available, yet it's always a sellout, so book your place early. If you are lucky enough to get tickets, dress warmly for evening shows and always bring a raincoat; the show goes on in all weathers.

    1–3 Cockburn St., Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH1 1QB, Scotland
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  • 16. Traverse Theatre

    With its specially designed space, the Traverse Theatre has developed a solid reputation for new, stimulating plays by Scottish dramatists, as well as innovative dance performances.

    10 Cambridge St., Edinburgh, EH1 2ED, Scotland
  • 17. Usher Hall

    Edinburgh's grandest concert venue, Usher Hall hosts a wide range of national and international performers, from Paul Weller and Paloma Faith to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

    Lothian Rd., Edinburgh, EH1 2EA, Scotland

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