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.


Terminal V

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.

Easter time

Ceilidh Culture

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.

Keep up to date with the latest info from this popular festival via Imaginate UK's Facebook Page or website.

Edinburgh TradFest

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!

All the latest information can be found via their Facebook Page or website.


Edinburgh International Film Festival

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.

For up to date information visit EIFF's Facebook Page or website.

Edinburgh Annuale

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!

Full details including how to enter can be seen on their Facebook Page or website.

Pride Edinburgh

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.

Although the 2020 event has been cancelled, you can check out further developments via their Facebook Page or website.

Leith Festival

June 2021

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.

Keep in the know with the latest announcements via Leith Festival's Facebook Page or website.


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.

You can see MagicFest throughout the year at other events, but for the real magic, make sure you keep up to date on the latest information via their Facebook Page and website.

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.

Although 2020's events have been postponed, you can see the latest news and information via their Facebook Page or website.

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.

Details of the festival everyone loves can be viewed via their Facebook Page or website.


Edinburgh Art Festival

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.

Although the 2020 festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19, you can keep up to date on future events via their Facebook Page or website.

Edinburgh International Festival

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.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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"

The 2020 events have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis, but you can keep up to date on next year's plans via their Facebook Page or website.

Foodies Festival

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!

For the latest news on celebrity chef appearances, live music and any date changes please visit their website or Facebook Page.

Free Fringe

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.

The event usually runs at the same time of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and therefore has been cancelled for 2020 but stay tuned to their Facebook Page or website for the latest.

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.

The 2020 events are still going ahead at the moment with a final decision being made by 6th July as they monitor the COVID-19 crisis. For the latest info, visit their Facebook Page or website.

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

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.

Keep up to date on news and ticket information via their Facebook Page and website.

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.

No postponement has been announced, as of yet, for 2020 with details available via our website or Facebook Page.

Edinburgh International Book Festival

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 2020 events have sadly been cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis, however please keep up to date on future events via their website and Facebook Page.

Edinburgh Mela

Dates TBC

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.

Edinburgh International Television Festival

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.

The 2020 event is going digital due to COVID-19 and full details are available via their Facebook Page and website.


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.

The 2020 dates have not yet been listed, but you can check out their Facebook Page and website for future information.

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!

Tickets are on sale now via the Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival website or visit their Facebook Page for further information.

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