Edinburgh Festivals: What's On in 2024

2024 - Dates2024 is the 77th anniversary of Edinburgh's birth as a world leading festival city - and the 900th anniversary of the founding of the city of Edinburgh. Formed in the shadow of a worldwide cataclysm, our first festivals in 1947 sought to use culture as a healing balm to bring peoples and nations together in celebration of our common humanity and help ‘the flowering of the human spirit’. Over the years these festivals have been joined by others to create the 11 that today represent the worldwide phenomenon that is the Edinburgh Festivals.


Edinburgh Science Festival [30 March to 14 April]

The Edinburgh Science Festival was the world's first such festival when it launched in 1989. Today it remains the UK’s largest Science Festival and for 2 weeks each year - centred around the Easter break - offers a range of amazing and fun experiences for all ages, with a programme of exhibitions, events, workshops, performances, screenings and discussions between some of the world's foremost scientific minds in venues across the city. The 2024 programme will launch on 15 February with the theme Shaping the Future. Celebrating the power and potential that human creativity, collaboration, innovation and play have to change our world for the better, the 2024 Festival will explore the roles of science, technology and their creative cousins in tackling the challenges and seizing the opportunities that our ever-changing world presents.

Edinburgh International Children's Festival [25 May to 2 June]

The Edinburgh International Children's Festival is a 9-day festival offering innovative family-friendly theatre and dance for young audiences. Every year the programme delivers performances with big ideas, epic stories and flamboyant physicality which will help young audiences make sense of our sometimes-conflicted world. The often visually striking productions take place in theatres and community centres across the city, and the Festival opens with a day of free-pop-up performances in the National Museum of Scotland. The 2024 programme will launch on 20 March and will include a newly commissioned circus show for children by SUPERFAN, in partnership with Aberdeen Performing Arts, which follows on from their ground-breaking 2019 production Little Top that invited babies to experience the magic of circus in a specially designed miniature world.  

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival [12 July to 21 July]

For over 45 years, the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival has provided a platform to showcase the very best jazz and blues artists that the world has to offer. Held over 10 days and with over 130 performances a year the festival is one of the largest jazz festivals in Europe, creating moving and memorable experiences for both residents of the city and visitors from around the globe.  The Festival attracts major international jazz names from all over the world, as well as from the burgeoning Scottish contemporary jazz scene - and the free Mardi Gras and Carnival events during the opening weekend of the festival provide the real feel-good factor that every jazz festival hopes for. The 2024 programme will launch in May with a few headline announcements before then, including the ever-popular Jools Holland & his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra who will perform on Sunday 14 July at the Festival Theatre. 

Jazz - Trumpet LiveAugust

Edinburgh International Festival [2 August to 25 August]

Founded in 1947, the Edinburgh International Festival is an unparalleled celebration of the performing arts and an annual meeting point for peoples of all nations. Committed to virtuosity and originality, the International Festival presents some of the finest performers and ensembles from the worlds of dance, opera, music and theatre for three weeks in August - making Scotland’s capital an unparalleled celebration of the performing arts and an annual meeting point for people of all nations. The 2024 programme will launch on 7 March with this year's theme being ’Rituals that Unite Us’ - reasserting the need for reconciliation and the value of shared experiences in today’s increasingly disconnected world, with a programme of live music, theatre, opera and dance which will celebrate the practices, traditions and festivities that bring us together.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe [2 August to 26 August]

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is one of the greatest celebrations of arts and culture on the planet. For three weeks in August, the city of Edinburgh welcomes an explosion of creative energy from around the globe. Artists and performers take to hundreds of stages all over the city to present shows for every taste. Venues can be anywhere, from existing theatres and concert halls to repurposed spaces like bars, parks, buses and shipping containers - while the Fringe street events bring colour, excitement and vibrancy to outdoor areas, free of charge. From big names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers, the festival caters for everyone and includes all genres. The full 2024 programme will launch on 12 June, but there will be three earlier dates when selected shows will be announced and tickets will go on sale [22 February, 4 April and 9 May].

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo [2 August to 24 August]

Set against the backdrop of Edinburgh’s historic castle, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of the most special events in Edinburgh's calendar. Bringing together audiences from across the globe, the Tattoo celebrates the skills and talents of military bands and cultural performers from around the globe. There are few such immersive and moving festival moments, a fact to which any of the over 220,000 people who experience it live every year can attest – not to mention the further 100 million watching on television around the globe!  The sounds of the bands can be heard throughout the city, followed by the cheers of the audience, and the glorious projections that light up the Castle. The 2024 programme is already launched and tickets are on sale, with this year's theme being 'Journeys' - a Show that will transport audiences on an international cultural journey, bringing together the voices and stories that connect our cast, audiences, and cultures of the Tattoo. 

Edinburgh Art Festival [9 August to 25 August]

Edinburgh Art Festival is the UK’s largest annual festival of visual art and was founded in 2004 - making this year it's 20th anniversary - through an ambitious partnership of galleries committed to ensuring that high quality presentations of visual art remained at the core of Edinburgh’s summer festival experience. The festival works with local and international partners to present an ambitious and meaningful programme of exhibitions, events and projects. Since its beginnings, the festival has featured exhibitions from artists at a pivotal point in their career, alongside the best emerging talent, major survey exhibitions of historic figures and a programme of new commissions. The full 2024 programme will launch in June with various exhibitions and events announced in the intervening months - including Women In Revolt at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, one of the largest exhibitions ever curated at Tate Britain exploring feminist art.

Edinburgh International Book Festival [10 August to 25 August]

Since 1983, the Festival has welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors to engage with the world’s greatest and emerging writers, thinkers, artists, and performers. Each year, they programme innovative events that capture the hearts and minds of audiences, both in Edinburgh and online. These take the form of on-stage conversations, workshops, creative masterclasses, think tanks, and more, all informed by a culture of open dialogue. Performance and interactive events have become prominent features of the Festival, complementing the more traditional interview-style conversations and readings, and contributing to the Book Festival’s reputation as a powerful forum for the public to exchange views with writers and experts on a wide range of issues. The 2024 programme will launch on 4 June with the festival relocating to its new hom at the Edinburgh Futures Institute, the landmark University of Edinburgh development on the site of the old Royal Infirmary on Lauriston Place.

Edinburgh International Film Festival [15 August to 21 August]

Established in 1947 as the International Festival of Documentary Films, the Edinburgh International Film Festival is renowned around the world for discovering and promoting the very best in international cinema - and for heralding and debating changes in global filmmaking. EIFF seeks to spotlight the most exciting and innovative new film talent, in a setting steeped in history. Intimate in its scale, ambitious in its scope, and fuelled by pure passion for cinema in all its manifestations, focusing on artistic quality and excellence, the festival explores new ideas in cinema, inviting local and international audiences to engage with a dynamic programme of features, documentaries, shorts and experimental cinema. The 2024 programme will launch in June with the festival poised to accelerate the discovery of new talent by already announcing that 20 world premieres - ten features and ten shorts - will compete in two new competition categories.

Photographers - EIFFPost-August

Scottish International Storytelling Festival [18 to 31 October]

Great stories well told can evoke indelible images in the mind of the listener, offering visitors and locals a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the extraordinary tales, music and characters that bring both our contemporary and traditional culture to life. The Scottish International Storytelling Festival present world-class storytellers who celebrate the tradition, but also push the modern boundaries of storytelling as well, rooted in the past, resonating in the present. The Festival takes place in October each year, as the seasons change with long nights drawing families and friends around the hearth, inspired by the Scottish ceilidh tradition and its sense of togetherness – a community gathering full of tales, anecdotes, music, songs and ballads. The 2024 programme will launch in September.

Edinburgh's Hogmanay [29 December 2024 to 1 January 2025]

Hogmanay is the Scottish word for the last day of the year or New Year’s Eve and is generally regarded as the most important Scottish holiday. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival dates back to 1993 and has evolved to become one of the greatest outdoor celebrations of New Year’s Eve in the world. Hogmanay is technically just one day but the Hogmanay celebration in Edinburgh (as well as in other places in Scotland) lasts for about 3 days. In any normal year the big events include a torchlight procession and other entertainment on December 30th, a massive outdoor street party, concerts, and fireworks on December 31st, and then smaller public entertainment options on January 1st. Programme launch date TBC but early-bird tickets for the world famous Street Party go on sale on 31 January 2024 - with pyrotechnic wizards Titanium once again designing one of the best New Year firework displays.

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