Access and Inclusion at Edinburgh’s summer festivals

A 3 photo montage showing, from left to right, a man walking and a woman in a wheelchair at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, a crowd of people walking up the cobbled streets of Edinburgh towards the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and an elderly woman wearing dark glasses petting two assistance dogs


Every summer, Edinburgh welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors to a multitude of events in a huge range of venues across the city - and while Edinburgh’s trademark cobbled streets and old buildings can sometimes be difficult to access, our Festivals have been working hard with city venue partners to make the summer’s exciting events open to all. Here's a look at how Edinburgh summer festivals are enhancing their accessibility and inclusivity across the coming weeks of cultural fun.

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival [15-24 July]

This year’s Jazz Festival takes place across many different city venues, with the vast majority accessible to wheelchairs - only the Jazz Bar and Heriot’s Rugby Club are unable to offer wheelchair access due to the nature of the buildings. The Jazz Festival also offers a free ticket for the companions of audience members who use wheelchairs or have mobility difficulties or visual/hearing impairment. Audiences with access requirements are encouraged to call +44 131 467 5200 or email fiona@adjazz.co.uk

Edinburgh Art Festival [28 July-28 August]

Edinburgh Art Festival has partnered with disability access website Euan’s Guide to provide access information on many of their venues. The majority of these are wheelchair accessible and audiences are encouraged to contact the Festival directly to discuss specific needs or advice on access to individual venues: Telephone +44 131 226 6558 (Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm) or email info@edinburghartfestival.com 

Photo: An elderly woman wearing dark glasses petting two assistance dogs


Edinburgh International Festival
 [5-28 August]

The Edinburgh International Festival has published a comprehensice Access Guide and is offering a wide range of accessible performances, including those that are British Sign Language interpreted, audio described and captioned, as well as relaxed performances. They have also an Access Pass which is designed to improve the booking experience for D/deaf and disabled audience members. You can find more information on each of their accessible performances - including details on productions, dates, interpreters and describers - HERE. The Festival brochure is also available in a variety of accessible formats whjich you can find on the Euan's Guide site which also provides disabled access reviews of festival venues. And in this video Amy Helena takes us through what's on offer in 2022.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NG1QHqucuj0

Edinburgh Festival Fringe [5-29 August]

The Fringe Box Office has staff in place specifically for access enquiries and ticket bookings. This service exists to assist anyone with an access requirement to make the most of what the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has to offer. The Fringe also offer accessible show listings, with information on performances that are audio-described, BSL interpreted, relaxed or offer touch tours. The Fringe Society provides sensory backpacks for children and adults who might find the festival environment overwhelming. All Access information can be found HERE - and to find out more about the access tickets service please email accessbookings@edfringe.com

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo [5-27 August]

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is Scotland’s biggest, bestselling outdoor spectacle. The venue itself is situated in the most popular part of the city on Edinburgh Castle’s doorstep, high above the skyline. For this reason, patrons with limited mobility, those with heart or respiratory problems and those that suffer from vertigo, may find access more challenging. However, the Tattoo does not want anyone to miss out, so if you are in any doubts whatsoever about the venue accessibility, we recommend that you contact the Tattoo Office to discuss your particular requirements. There are a number of wheelchair spaces in various sections of the Tattoo stands, as well as seating for those with restricted mobility. Vehicle passes are also available for those with tickets to the disabled seating area and allow drivers (including taxis and ambulances) to transport audience members directly onto the Esplanade. The Tattoo also provides specific assistance for those with hearing and visual impairments. A hearing loop system is available by reservation when booking tickets and audio description will be available at certain performances. Assistance dogs can also be admitted in certain areas of the venue. You can find out more about accessibility at the Tattoo HERE.

Photo: A crowd of people walking up the cobbled streets of Edinburgh towards the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo


Edinburgh International Book Festival
 [13-29 August]

The Book Festival Village and all venues within it are fully wheelchair accessible. A selection of events in our programme will be BSL interpreted and a selection will be captioned. Look out for the BSL and CAP tags on the event pages under the event title. You can search for the events which are captioned or offer a BSL interpreter using the event search form. Or go straight to the list of events which are captioned and BSL interpreted. There are infrared systems in the Ferstival theatres and you should collect a set of earphones and a receiver along with an instruction card from the Welcome Desk at the entrance, prior to your event. Assistance dogs are welcome in the Book Festival Village and let the Box Office know at least a day before your event so that they will sort out your seats. Hidden Disabilities lanyards are also available to collect as you enter the Book Festival site and discreetly indicates to the trained staff that you may need additional support or help as you navigate the Book Festival site and attend events. The programme also includes a number of interactive and multi-sensory Learning Disability Friendly events, designed in collaboration with learning disability charity PAMIS. You can find our more about accessibility at the Book Festival HERE.

Photo: A man walking and a woman in a wheelchair at the Edinburgh International Book Festival


Edinburgh International Film Festival
 [12-20 August]

The main festival venue, Filmhouse, is wheelchair accessible with 3 screens, accessible tpoilets and a fully licensed Café Bar, with movable seating. You are requested to book wheelchair spaces in advance to avoid disappointment. The Festival's opening and closing Gala events usually take place at the city's Festival Theatre. There are six steps up with one handrail, or a pavement ramp, from the road to the front of the theatre. Level access is also available at the side entrance to the Café if required. Wheelchair access is available from street level access direct into the stalls. Please ask the customer services team on arrival for assistance. Across the entire Festival programme, audio description and captioned screenings will be provided where possible both in venue and online - and this page wil be updated with a list of such screenings when confirmed.. You can find general access information HERE - and if you have a specific access query, please call +44 131 2228 2688 or email info@edfilmfest.org.uk

Other Useful Information

Photo: The exterior of an accessible Changing Places toilet

Toilets: There are four Changing Places in central Edinburgh during August. These are accessible toilets with an adult-sized changing bench and hoist, for people who are unable to use a standard accessible toilet.

  • The Booking Office Pub, Waverley Bridge, EH1 1BQ, 08:00 – 22:30.
  • National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, EH1 1JF, 10:00 – 16:30.
  • Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art – Modern One – 75 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3DR, 09:45 – 17:30.
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh College of Art, 74 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh, EH3 9DF, 09:30 – midnight, during Book Festival dates only. For more information see the Book Festival website or ask a member of Book Festival front of house staff or security.

Euan's Guide is an excellent resource, providing detailed information and advice for disabled people, their friends, families and carers on accessibility. The site features reviews of venues, hotels, restaurants and more and has a lot of user-generated content.

Artlink Access Service provides advice and assistance to help people with accessibility needs to attend and participate in arts events in Edinburgh. For more information contact Artlink on 0131 229 3555, Typetalk 18001 0131 229 3555 or email info@artlinkedinburgh.co.uk

Access Information for permanent city cultural venues

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