The Latest News On The 2021 Festivals

Hello flag

We know that so many of you are watching and awaiting news of the Edinburgh Festivals 2021 programmes and so we've pulled together the following overview of how things stand across all our 11 festivals and we aim to update this page as soon as further news becomes available - noting that the latest update below [8 June 2021] is from the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival.


Edinburgh Science Festival: Has moved to June/July - see below.


Edinburgh International Children's Festival: The festival is now over, having run from 25 May to 6 June as a hybrid programme of online and outdoor theatre and dance for young people. You can read further festival information HERE.


Edinburgh International Film Festival: Has moved to August - see below.


Edinburgh International Science Festival: The Festival is moving to summer for the first time ever - 26 June to 11 July - in response to a changing world. In a year that sees the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first draft of the human genome and the 50th year since the invention of email and the inception of the World food programme, the Festival will explore how we are all connected – to each other, to Planet Earth and to the wider Universe – with a Festival theme of ONE WORLD: Science Connects UsDigitally there are over 160 online events and experiences for all ages, delivering an exciting mix of exhibitions, presenter-led workshops, science shows, discussions and downloadable family activities. At its heart, however, the Festival deliverers inspirational live experiences. While it won't look quite the same as a normal year, the Festival is delighted to be back in the live game with a focus on outdoor experiences such as walks, tours, trails, exhibitions and installations, which allow audiences to use the city as their playground, safely getting their science fix this summer.  You can explore the programme HERE.

UPDATE [08/06/21]: Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival: The programme for this year's Festival has now been announced, with tickets going on sale at 10am on Thursday 10 June. The festival will run from Friday 16 to Sunday 25 July with over 40 different concerts - 20 concerts live-streamed in front of a small, live audience at Assembly Roxy and 20 pre-recorded concerts including seven specially-created EXPO projects. The programme boasts performances from established acts from across the spectrum of jazz and blues and brilliant opportunities to explore a range of music from the two scenes. If watching online you can purchase a Festival Pass [£40 for all 42 online concerts, plus a host of extra content with our 'In Conversation with...' and 'Jazz From Around the World' series] or buy an individual ticket, with concerts available for 3 days so you can view at your leisure. Read more HERE


Edinburgh Art Festival: The festival will return from 29 July-29 August, following an exceptionally challenging period for the creative sector. The 17th edition will bring together over 35 exhibitions and new commissions in visual art spaces across the city, complemented by an online programme of events and digital presentations. All festival venues will be following the latest government Covid guidelines to ensure visitor safety, and they will be keeping their website regularly updated on what audiences can expect during their visit, with full listings due in late-Spring. Amongst the highlights are major new commissions and presentations by leading international artists, including the UK & European premiere of Lessons of the Hour by Isaac Julien in partnership with National Galleries of Scotland; and two new festival co-commissions, with work by Sean Lynch in collaboration with Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop; and a sound installation by Emeka Ogboh with Talbot Rice Gallery. The programme will also feature important retrospectives and major survey shows, and see the return of Platform, the annual showcase supporting artists in the early stages of their careers. Read more HERE.

Edinburgh International Festival: The Festival has launched the programme for their reimagined 2021 Festival, live and outdoors in some of Edinburgh’s most historic and picturesque settings, with events that are diverse and inspiring, providing a joyful route back to live performance. Taking place from 7 to 29 August, more than 170 different shows and productions will be staged at 10 indoor and outdoor locations across the city during the three-week festival - with the vast majority of shows staged in three pop-up 'pavilions' - at a new culture quarter at Edinburgh Park, Edinburgh Academy Junior School’s playing fields and Edinburgh University’s Old College quadrangle. And the festival’s opening weekend will see a ticketed three-day spectacle in the Royal Botanic Garden. Read about the hightlights of the programme HERE.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Whatever happens, the 2021 Fringe will exist in one form or another from 06 to 30 August. Show registration – for both online and in-person performances – will be opening on Wednesday 05 May. This is an exciting moment for the Fringe; it means all the preparatory discussions – with artists, venues, government and all members of the Fringe community – can finally be translated into action, with visible results. However any eagerness to restart the Fringe must be tempered by a sense of caution and responsibility. The Fringe continues to work closely with Scottish Government and the City of Edinburgh Council, and will keep a close eye on official guidance as it emerges and develops, using it to inform every decision made. The most recent news indicates some easing of restrictions by the end of June, which is definitely encouraging, but if the last year has taught us anything it’s that things can change at very short notice, so for those dreaming fervently of a fun-packed summer in Edinburgh, we strongly recommend an attitude of cautious optimism at this stage. It’s also important to remember that this year’s Fringe won’t be the same as it was. Even as restrictions relax, there is an expectation that some form of social distancing and other safety measures will be seen in Edinburgh this August. Again, the Fringe will work with venues and other partners to figure out how best to use this information as it develops, creating clear guidance for audiences and participants. And although it will not be possible to produce the usual printed programme this year, the Fringe are exploring alternatives. You can read further detail HERE.

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo: Has announced the cancellation of its 2021 Show, with Chief Executive Buster Howes saying: “Despite the sense of optimism around the UK’s emergence from the Pandemic and our huge enthusiasm to stage a performance this year, it is now clear that the financial risks we confront in delivering The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, at scale, on the Castle Esplanade in August are simply too great.  Consequently, it is with enormous regret and disappointment that we announce the cancellation of the 2021 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. We have for months forensically monitored, assessed and sought to mitigate the constraints and uncertainties involved in mounting our Show. However, we now reluctantly conclude it would be irresponsible to press on and to risk the longer-term financial viability of our Charity, without the ability to underwrite and to offset the potential, substantial economic losses associated with last-minute cancellation obliged by changes in public health policy...... Tickets for 2021 will be refunded in full: for those wishing to join us next year, tickets can be transferred to 2022." The full statement can be read HERE.

Edinburgh International Book Festival: Organisers of the Festival have confirmed that the 2021 Festival will take place from 14 to 30 August from the beautiful indoor and open, grassy outdoor spaces of the University of Edinburgh’s Edinburgh College of Art on Lauriston Place.  While the full programme and event details will not be announced until the end of June, the Book Festival team are planning a range of live online author talks, workshops and readings and, only if circumstances permit, some events for in person, albeit socially distanced, audiences. While 2020 proved extremely challenging for the Book Festival it also opened up some extraordinarily exciting opportunities.  Building on the success of the online Book Festival, the new strategic partnership with the University of Edinburgh will enable the Festival to inhabit this innovative space in 2021 with excellent studio and theatre facilities for both online broadcasting and potential events with a socially distanced audience. You can read further detail HERE.

Edinburgh International Film Festival: Edinburgh International Film Festival is delighted to announce that it will return in a new and innovative form this summer running 18- 25 August 2021. Championing Scottish and UK filmmaking, the Festival will include physical screenings and events indoors in Filmhouse Cinema and outdoors with Film Fest in the City in St Andrew Square, in a rich and diverse programme celebrating the return to cinemas and the collective cinema experience. The festival will also be available to audiences across the UK through its online platform, Filmhouse at Home, where alongside the films viewers can access Q&As and hear first-hand the insights, experiences and passions of directors, filmmakers and actors. In addition, the Festival is collaborating with partners to widen its reach through a programme of presentations across Scotland, opening up access and inspiring curiosity in many who may previously not have been able to experience the Festival programme. The full programme will be announced on Wednesday 28th July. Read more HERE.


Scottish International Storytelling Festival: The dates have been set [15 to 31 October] and as is usual, programme announcements will not be made until later in the year.


Edinburgh's Hogmanay: The online edition of the 2020/21 programme has just finished - you can watch and read all about it HERE - and the team are taking a well earned break before they turn their attention to the programme which traditionally commences on 30th December.

Image credit: Peter Liversidge's HELLO flags [Edinburgh Art Festival]

Share this article

Jump to sign up form

Keep Up to Date

Sign up for Festival Updates
Back to top ↑