A Guide to Edinburgh's Festivals
Updated: Apr 23, 2020
Forgetting the current COVID-19 pandemic and looking ahead to 2021, RedHanded Magazine breaks down the year's events to look forward to in Scotland.
Burns & Beyond 21st January - 9th February A celebration of the life and legacy of Robert Burns, presenting art and culture from across Scotland and beyond in venues throughout Edinburgh city centre.
Scotland's biggest electronic music festival. Running twice annually, Easter & Halloween.
Beltane Fire Festival
30th April 2021
A reinterpretation of an ancient Iron Age Celtic ritual and is the largest of its kind. The aim is to bring like-minded people together to acknowledge and revel in the birth of the Summer and the fertility of the land.
Due to the COVID-19 Lockdown measures, the Beltane Fire Festival 2020 event will be held online but their Samhuinn Fire Festival on 31st October 2020 is currently still set to go ahead, dependant on the outlook. For full details, visit their Facebook Page or Website.
Ceilidh Culture is an annual festival held in Edinburgh, Scotland which incorporates folk music, song, dance and storytelling. The current format first took place in 2003, although Edinburgh has had a festival with traditional ceilidh music also involving all the traditional arts since 1951.
Edinburgh International Children's Festival (formerly the Imaginate Festival)
20th - 31st May
Edinburgh's festival for children promotes and develops performing arts for young people in Scotland and supports artists working in the sector.
1st - 11th May
TradFest is feast of culture in Edinburgh, Scotland's Festival City & the annual showcase of TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland) which is the national network for traditional arts.
Enjoy music, song, dance, storytelling, exhibitions, parades, folk drama, family events, guided walks, talks, arts and crafts, and all as Scotland celebrates the traditional season of May Day/Beltane – the start of summer!
17th - 28th June
Inaugurated in 1947, Edinburgh International Film Festival is the world's longest continually-running film festival. EIFF presents both UK and international films (all titles are World, International, European, UK or Scottish Premieres), in all genres and lengths. It also presents themed retrospectives and other specialised programming strands.
7th - 23rd June
Annuale is an annual visual arts festival of independent and grassroots activity co-ordinated by Embassy in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Short Film Festival
Dedicated to showcasing short films from near and far in eclectic venues across the city and working with festivals internationally to screen and promote short film.
Making awards for Best Film, Best Animation, Best Scottish Film and curating programmes for International Film Festivals!
13th June 2020 (Cancelled)
Pride Edinburgh marks its 25th Anniversary in 2020. A quarter of a century of progressive change for the LGBTQI+ community of the capital city alongside marking our place in the wider world as a warm and welcoming city to all irrespective of Colour, Creed, Sexuality, Gender or Class. The event usually includes a march / parade and nightlife events.
Usually running each June, the 2020 event has been postponed until after the COVID-19 crisis. Known as Edinburgh's longest running festival, with roots beginning in 1907, the popular festival features live music, theatre performances, visual arts, pageant and a gala day. The event has a real sense of community which is sometimes lost with other festivals in the city.
MagicFest - Edinburgh International Magic Festival
1st - 8th July
Edinburgh International Magic Festival is annual arts festival that promotes magic as an art form and celebrates the limitless possibilities of human imagination. Every year this week-long festival attracts over 10,000 people at 80 different events across the city from free installations to the world-class Gala shows. The programme is balanced to reflect the best and most exciting magic from around the world alongside the very best in home grown work, aiming to amaze, inspire, provoke and entertain. The Festival is also producing new work which celebrates Edinburgh’s unique historic environment and cultural heritage in innovative and exciting way.
Edinburgh Green Film Festival
The Edinburgh Green Film Festival aim is to establish the first film festival focused on climate change and environmental themes within Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival
16th - 25th July 2021
For the last 40 years, Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival has been at the fore front of jazz and blues in Scotland, delivering a world class festival. From 2019 , the organisation expanded to deliver year-round activity: jazz & blues concerts, educational classes, Carnival and Street Arts and community engagement and outreach.
For the first time ever, the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival presents a 12 hour online Scottish blues extravaganza featuring established stars like Maggie Bell and Tim Elliott as well as new names like Jon MacKenzie and Liz Jones.
Visit their website for details of the Scottish Blues Weekend running from 22nd April to 26th April.
Edinburgh Food Festival
24th July - 2nd August 2020
he free Festival welcomes visitors of all ages to George Square Gardens, with stallholders offering everything from Alandas Gelato and Fish & Chips (East Lothian) to Jarvis Pickle pies (Berwickshire) and Chick & Pea street food (Edinburgh). Quenching thirsts throughout the five days are a selection popular drinks brands, including Fyne Ales from Argyll.
With quality Scottish food at the heart of it, the festival is a fantastic introduction for visitors to see just a soupçon of what Scotland’s larder has to offer.
30th July - 30th August
Founded in 2004, Edinburgh Art Festival is the platform for the visual arts at the heart of Edinburgh’s August festivals, bringing together the capital’s leading galleries, museums and artist-run spaces in a city-wide celebration of the very best in visual art. Each year, the Festival features leading international and UK artists alongside the best emerging talent, major survey exhibitions of historic figures, and a special programme of newly commissioned artworks that respond to public and historic sites in the city. The vast majority of the festival is free to attend.
7th - 31st August 2020
The International Festival presents some of the finest performers and ensembles from the worlds of dance, opera, music & theatre for three weeks in August.
Although the 2020 event has been cancelled due to COVID-19, work begins immediately on the 2021 Festival, which will be announced in due course. For updates, the latest news visit their Facebook Page or website.
7th - 31st August 2020
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the world's largest arts festival, which in 2018 spanned 25 days and featured more than 55,000 performances of 3,548 different shows in 317 venues.
Established in 1947 as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival, it takes place annually in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the month of August. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has become a world-leading celebration of arts and culture, surpassed only by the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup in terms of global ticketed events. As an event it "has done more to place Edinburgh in the forefront of world cities than anything else"
7th - 9th August 2020
Foodies Festival, one of the UK’s biggest food festival, heads to Edinburgh with a mouth-watering summer festival, live music, workshops, masterclasses and top chefs who will all be sharing their favourite recipes and top tips!
7th - 31st August 2020
A variety of shows across Edinburgh, throughout the Festival Fringe that offers no charge to the public, with free entry at all venues, and no charges to performers.
Fringe by the Sea
7th - 16th August 2020
Celebrating its 13th year, Fringe by the Sea is back for 2020 with 160 shows crammed into ten days (including two weekends) across music, comedy, film, literature, family, wellbeing, conversation and more.
North Berwick harbour will once again be the Festival hub, housing the striking Spiegeltents, food village and box office; further pop-up venues across the town will stage an array of events and performances to delight all.
There is a strong emphasis on community but the festival also attracts visitors from all over Scotland, the UK and overseas.
7th - 29th August 2020
An annual series of military tattoos performed by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and international military bands, and artistic performance teams on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle in the capital of Scotland. The cancelled 2020 events were due to mark the 70th anniversary but has now been postponed until 2021. Since its inception in 1950, the Tattoo has become an experience like no other. Taking place on the esplanade of Edinburgh's iconic Castle, expect an unforgettable evening of music, ceremony, theatre and dance.
Just Festival (formerly the Festival of Spirituality and Peace)
7th - 31st August 2020
Set up in 2005 by the Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association, Just Festival is an international, multi-cultural and multi-faith space for dialogue and platforms for engagement in local, national and international questions of social justice, equality and identity, both from the religious and non-religious perspectives.
The Edinburgh International Book Festival began in 1983 and is now a key event in the August Festival season, celebrated annually in Scotland's capital city. Biennial at first, the Book Festival became a yearly celebration in 1997.
Throughout its history, the Book Festival has grown rapidly in size and scope to become the largest and most dynamic festival of its kind in the world. In its first year the Book Festival played host to just 30 'Meet the Author' events. Today, the Festival programmes over 900 events, which are enjoyed by people of all ages.
The Edinburgh Mela celebrates Scotland’s diverse culture, delivering a high quality festival of music, dance and the wider arts from around the world all with the express purpose of promoting community cohesion and mutual understanding between our changing and diverse communities. An essential platform to BAME artists and performers and showcase work from local and emerging artists and companies alongside artists of national and international stature.
Now in its 45th year, the festival is famous for its provocative, informative and entertaining sessions, all created by seasoned TV producers ensuring they are of the highest quality and relevance. Offering more than 60 keynotes, debates and masterclasses, plus scores of networking opportunities, the festival draws around 2200 professionals from across the globe.
Africa in Motion Film Festival
Africa in Motion (AiM) is an annual African film festival taking place in Scotland, consisting of film screenings and complementary events. Now in its 15th year, AiM brings the best of African cinema to Scotland—making it possible for Scottish audiences to engage with African stories and industry professionals from the continent.
Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival
9th & 10th October 2020 (Previously 24th & 25th May)
Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival, a celebration of craft beer, food and music! This is more than just a beer festival! These are the new proposed dates and tickets include entry, tasting glass and beer!
Scottish International Storytelling Festival
16th - 31st October 2020
The Scottish International Storytelling Festival is one of the most admired storytelling events in the world and the largest of its kind – both from a programming and participation perspective - encompassing a wealth of cultures, traditions and styles. A world of stories within the Festival City. A Home for Scotland's Culture with an exciting programme of live storytelling, theatre, literature and traditional arts, plus stirring exhibitions and workshops.
Festival of Politics
The Scottish Parliament's Festival of Politics is open to everyone and events include debates on the political and social issues that matter most to you, as well as a programme of free entertainment.
No dates have been announced but details are expected to announced via their website.
Dead by Dawn Horror Festival
6th - 9th November 2020
Scotland's international horror film festival - frightening the masses at the Filmhouse Cinema in Edinburgh since 1993. Usually held in April, but postponed due to COVID-19.
Festival of Wine
14th November 2020
In 2002 wine expert Tom Cannavan created a popular annual wine festival in his native city of Glasgow, with superb wines on tasting and amazing masterclasses featuring the world’s most interesting wines. Since then, he has taken the Festivals to London and Edinburgh too, with phenomenal success.
Each Festival is a celebration of wine with a real sense of community. Tickets include unlimited tastings from hundreds of high quality wines being poured by top winemakers, retailers and importers. There’s also a full programme of masterclasses at each event.
30th December - 1st January
The world's most interesting street party literally takes over the city with live music, DJs, giant screens, Christmas Market and street entertainment. A breathtaking fireworks display, set against the backdrop of the iconic Edinburgh Castle. Includes an iconic Torchlight Procession on the 30th December, Ceilidh Under The Castle on the 31st and Loony Dook on New Year's Day.
If you know of a festival that should be included in our guide, please get in contact and let us know. We regularly update our guide with your help!
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