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The Best of Edinburgh Festivals:

Inside Track

26 July 2023

Discover hidden gems and well- known festivals alike, with our ultimate insider’s guide. From globally renowned shows to lesser-known local celebrations, our inside track is the perfect starting point to curate your festival itinerary and make the most of summer in the city.

Edinburgh International Festival

A visit to Edinburgh in August means the chance to experience the largest, most illustrious culture festival in the world. Comprising an abundant selection of events to celebrate the world’s cultural pinnacle, from military grandeur and literary lectures to captivating science shows and intimate jazz and blues, there is something for everyone at the Edinburgh International Festival. Enjoy an unparalleled atmosphere in the city during festival season as the international celebration garners a global crowd of visitors who bring the streets of the capital to life.

Split into three meaningful themes, Edinburgh International Festival’s musical programme is the perfect place to start for visitors with a penchant for the classical arts. The three pertinent themes this summer are Community Over Chaos, Hope in the Face of Adversity, and A Perspective That’s Not One’s Own. Explored through the medium of moving orchestral concerts marking the premiere of musical scores from prodigies such as Tan Buddha, as well as performances from the Royal Scottish National Youth chorus, the residency is set to creatively represent the joy of music with stylistic innovation.

Royal Military Tattoo

One of the most iconic events in Edinburgh’s festival calendar is the Royal Military Tattoo, a multi-sensory spectacle celebrating the staggering skills of military bands and display teams from across the globe. Picture the roar of military jets through the Edinburgh skies, be inspired by the enchanting unison of highland dancers and enjoy the transcendent sound of the bands echoing through the city – this is a showcase of some of the most astoundingly unique performance art in the world.

With a different thematic point of focus each year, this summer’s theme is ‘Stories’, promising a captivating representation of the connection that shared stories from diverse backgrounds can hold and the broad modes of storytelling expressed globally. Excitingly, this year’s tattoo will see a debut performance from The United States Air Force Band as well as guest appearances from performers from as far as Trinidad and Tobago and Australia. Representing a new era of the Military Tattoo, the festival will this year blend cutting-edge technology with the meticulous tradition for which it’s historically known to create an unforgettable collection of performances.


If you’re new to the city you may not have heard of LeithLate, a multi-arts charity known locally for its annual summer programme of events ranging from mural art to interpretive dance. The festival began as a one-night celebration in 2011 and has since shared the same transformative trajectory as its location, with many recommending a Leith pub crawl in conjunction with the walking tours on offer as part of the festival through this up-and-coming corner of Edinburgh. With a waterfront tram-link set to be installed this summer, this will provide an easy route down from the Townhouse to an exciting and unique area of the city that’s ripe for exploration.

Edinburgh Fringe

Undoubtedly the most prominent of the festivals is the world-famous Fringe, renowned for its role in forging the careers of some of the world’s most successful comedy talent, from Graham Norton to Rowen Atkinson. Unique in its open access, anyone with a story to tell and the guts to do so are welcome to and you’re as likely to stumble across emerging stars of the comedy circuit as you are some of the world’s most established comedians on any given day. From burlesque and fancy dress to political satire and magic tricks, the Fringe is an explosion of creative talent. Set to be a favourite for 2023 following back-to-back sold out shows in London’s Soho Theatre is Josh Glanc’s Great To Be Here set, brimming with quick wit and astute one-liners, this show is fast-paced and guaranteed to split your sides. For something with a little more visual allure, be sure to catch one of Edinburgh’s well-loved shows from Head First Acrobats – their new act GODZ blends comedy with gravity-defying stunts to have you laughing and gasping in equal measure.

Edinburgh International Book Festival

A cerebral respite from the dazzling shows of the Fringe can be found in one of the many events set up by Edinburgh International Book Festival that runs through the final fortnight of August. A distinct international showcase of the written word, the ambition of its programme is to unite leading global literary voices with their audiences to engage aspiring writers and avid readers. In addition to the traditional interview-style conversations and readings, expect audience participation, discussion and interactivity to generate thought-provoking exchanges on societal issues or simply the chance to probe your favourite authors about their bestselling novels…


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