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For things to do in Edinburgh, the Edinbugh Festival dominates the events calendar, with millions of visitors thronging to the capital every year for the world's biggest arts festival and its spin-offs, but don't think this is the only thing that the city has to offer. Throughout the year there are a number of fantastic spectacles that draw visitors from far and wide to the grandeur that Edinburgh creates. From New Year celebrations (Hogmanay) and inspiring fireworks displays to coverted Science and Book festivals, Edinburgh provides events that are not to be missed.
Edinburgh is also very proud of it's heritage, with the Military Tattoo and the Royal Higland Show producing a display of everything that is good in Scotland and held in some of the most stunning locations. So, if you are looking for a time to visit the city and want things to do during your stay, then you would do not better than to make sure your trip coincides with any of the events and festivals that Edinburgh has to offer.
Here is some useful information and insider tips to help you plan and get the most out of your visit.
Read more on this destination in the AA Citypack Guide & Foldout Map For Edinburgh.
Top Edinburgh events
This is Scotland's new year and Edinburgh celebrates it in style with a four-day spectacle that includes concerts, street parties, live music, marching bands, processions and spectacular fireworks. Centred in Princes Street, this has become Europe's biggest winter festival.
Edinburgh celebrates the birthday of Scotland's national poet (25th January) with traditional haggis dinners and draughts of whiskey in hotels and restaurants all over the city.
Lectures and events covering all branches of science and technology, held in 40 venues across the city.
Royal Highland Show
Highlight of Scotland's country year, with a huge variety of events over 5 days, including pedigree livestock judging, show-jumping and agricultural displays.
International Film Festival
The longest running event of its kind in the world having produced innovative and exciting cinema since 1947. It began with a focus on documentary film, and evolved into a pioneering force for the world cinema. A celebration for cinema and a showcase for new films from all over the world, it presents UK and world premiers, video shorts and animation. The festival takes place across Edinburgh's cinemas.
Held on the castle Esplanade, with military precision, this is the greatest tattoo of them all. A spectacular display of music, entertainment and theatre with a military theme set against the stunning backdrop of the castle.
This is not just one event but many running concurrently. The most prestigious being the Edinburgh International Arts Festival (see below), founded in 1947, which showcases world-class performing arts events. Side by side with this heavyweight the anarchic and vast Fringe (see below) has plays, music, comedy and dance in nearly 300 venues.
Edinburgh International Arts Festival
This three-week fesitval offers the highest quality opera, dance, classical music and theatre. The programme, which is free and available from the Edinburgh Festival Office, is published at the end of March and you can book tickets from the middle of April. Many events sell out quickly, so it's advisable to book as far in advance as possible to secure tickets. Festival Performances are held in Edinburgh's larger more prestigious venues such as Usher Hall.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
The ever-expanding Fringe is host to hundreds of different productions of varying quality. Performances of theatre, comedy, music and dance are held in every venue imaginable. Availability of tickets hinges on positive or negative reviews, so get in there quick if you hear good things about a production. The Fringe programme, which you can get from the Fringe Office on the Royal Mile, comes out in June. Give yourself enough time to sift through thousands of entries.
Edinburgh Book Festival
An annual event since 1998, this two week bookfest occupies a tented village in Charlotte Square, and attracts a wide spectrum of authors. You can hear talks and readings, join in question and answer sessions with famous writers and of course, meet your favourite authors and buy books at signing sessions.
Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival.
Lasting 10 days, the Jazz Festival hosts musicians from all over the world who play in pubs and clubs throughout the city.