Edinburgh Travel Guide


Festivals and celebrations

The city hosts the annual Edinburgh International Festival, which is one of many events that run between the end of July and early September each year. The best known of these events are the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The longest established of these festivals is the Edinburgh International Festival, which was first held in 1947 and consists mainly of a programme of high-profile theatre productions and classical music performances, featuring international directors, conductors, theatre companies and orchestras.

This has since been overtaken both in size and popularity by the Edinburgh Fringe which began as a programme of marginal acts alongside the "official" Festival and has become the largest performing arts festival in the world. In 2006, 1867 different shows were staged in 261 venues across the city. Comedy has become one of the mainstays of the Fringe, with numerous well-known comedians getting their first 'break' here, often by being chosen to receive the Edinburgh Comedy Award. In 2008, the largest comedy venues "on the Fringe" launched the Edinburgh Comedy Festival as a festival within a festival.

Other festivals include the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival which takes place in February, Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, which takes place in June, the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The Edge Festival (formerly known as T on the Fringe), a popular music offshoot of the Fringe, began in 2000, replacing the smaller Flux and Planet Pop series of shows.

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo, one of the centrepieces of the "official" Festival, occupies the Castle Esplanade every night, with massed pipers and military bands drawn from around the world. Performances end with a short fireworks display. As well as the various summer festivals the Edinburgh International Science Festival is held annually in April and is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

The annual Hogmanay celebration was originally an informal street party focused on the Tron Kirk in the High Street of the Old Town. Since 1993 it has been officially organised with the focus moved to Princes Street. In 1996, over 300,000 people attended, leading to ticketing of the main street party in later years up to a limit of 100,000 tickets. Hogmanay now covers four days of processions, concerts and fireworks, with the street party beginning on Hogmanay. Alternative tickets are available for entrance into the Princes Street Gardens concert and Céilidh, where well-known artists perform and ticket holders can participate in traditional Scottish céilidh dancing. The event attracts thousands of people from all over the world.

On the night of 30 April the Beltane Fire Festival takes place on Calton Hill, involving a procession followed by scenes inspired by pagan old spring fertility celebrations. At the beginning of October each year the Dussehra Hindu Festival is also held on Calton Hill.

Music, theatre and film

Outside the Festival season, Edinburgh supports several theatres and production companies. The Royal Lyceum Theatre has its own company, while the King's Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Theatre and Edinburgh Playhouse stage large touring shows. The Traverse Theatre presents a more contemporary repertoire. Amateur theatre companies productions are staged at the Bedlam Theatre, Church Hill Theatre and King's Theatre among others.

The Usher Hall is Edinburgh's premier venue for classical music, as well as occasional popular music concerts. It was the venue for the Eurovision Song Contest 1972. Other halls staging music and theatre include The Hub, the Assembly Rooms and the Queen's Hall. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra is based in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh has two repertory cinemas, the Edinburgh Filmhouse and The Cameo, as well as the independent Dominion Cinema and a range of multiplexes.

Edinburgh has a healthy popular music scene. Occasionally large concerts are staged at Murrayfield and Meadowbank, while mid-sized events take place at smaller venues such as the Corn Exchange, the Liquid Rooms and the Bongo Club. In 2010, PRS for Music listed Edinburgh among the UK's top ten 'most musical' cities. Several city pubs are well known for their live performances of folk music. They include 'Sandy Bell's' in Forrest Road, 'The Captain's Bar' in South College Street, and 'Whistlebinkies' in Niddry Street.

Edinburgh is home to a flourishing group of contemporary composers such as Nigel Osborne, Peter Nelson, Lyell Cresswell, Hafliði Hallgrímsson, Edward Harper, Robert Crawford, Robert Dow and John McLeod. McLeod's music is heard regularly on BBC Radio 3 and throughout the UK.

Rockstar North, formerly DMA Design, known for creating the Grand Theft Auto series, is based in Edinburgh.


The Edinburgh Evening News is based in Edinburgh and published every day except Sunday. Johnston Press owns the title and The Scotsman; their corporate headquarters are in Edinburgh and their national newspaper is the only one published in the city. The Herald newspaper, published in Glasgow, also covers Edinburgh.

The city has two commercial radio stations: Forth One, a station which broadcasts mainstream chart music, and Forth 2 on medium wave which plays classic hits. Capital Radio Scotland and Real Radio Scotland also have transmitters in Edinburgh. Along with the UK national radio stations, Radio Scotland and the Gaelic language service BBC Radio nan Gàidheal are also broadcast. DAB digital radio is broadcast over two local multiplexes.

Television, along with most radio services, is broadcast to the city from the Craigkelly transmitting station situated in Fife on the opposite side of the Firth of Forth.

Museums, libraries and galleries

Edinburgh has many museums and libraries. These include the National Museum of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland, National War Museum of Scotland, the Museum of Edinburgh and the Museum of Childhood.

Edinburgh Zoo, covering on Corstorphine Hill, is the second most popular paid tourist attraction in Scotland, and currently home to two giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, on loan from the People's Republic of China.

Edinburgh contains Scotland's five National Galleries of Art as well as numerous smaller art galleries. The national collection is housed in the National Gallery of Scotland, located on the Mound, now linked to the Royal Scottish Academy which holds regular major exhibitions of paintings. Contemporary collections are shown in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art which occupies a split site at Belford. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Queen Street focuses on portraits and photography.

The council-owned City Art Centre in Market Street mounts regular art exhibitions. Across the road, The Fruitmarket Gallery offers world class exhibitions of contemporary art, featuring work by British and international artists with both emerging and established international reputations.

There are many small private galleries, including the Ingleby Gallery. This provides a varied programme including shows by Callum Innes, Peter Liversidge, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Forster, and Sean Scully.

The city hosts several of Scotland's galleries and organisations dedicated to contemporary visual art. Significant strands of this infrastructure include: The Scottish Arts Council, Edinburgh College of Art, Talbot Rice Gallery (University of Edinburgh) and the Edinburgh Annuale.


The locale around Princes Street is the main shopping area in the city centre, with souvenir shops, chain stores such as Boots the Chemist, H&M and Jenners. George Street, north of Princes Street, is the preferred location for some upmarket shops and independent stores. The St. James Centre at the east end of Princes Street hosts national chains including a large John Lewis store. Multrees Walk, adjacent to the St. James Centre, is a recent addition to the central shopping district, dominated by the presence of Harvey Nichols. Shops here include Louis Vuitton, Emporio Armani, Mulberry and Calvin Klein.

Edinburgh also has substantial retail parks outside the city centre. These include The Gyle Shopping Centre and Hermiston Gait in the west of the city, Cameron Toll Shopping Centre, Straiton Retail Park and Fort Kinnaird in the south and east, and Ocean Terminal in the north on the Leith waterfront.

source: Wikipedia

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