Nine nifty newbie tips for Edinburgh's Festivals

A photo of a man standing in central Edinburgh, wearing sunglasses, and looking at a map with some confusion on his face

Coming to Edinburgh's Festivals this summer? First time here? Not sure where to start? Don't worry, we're here to help - here are nine nifty newbie tips to help you have even more fun in the Festival City.

1. Remember, there's no such thing as "The Edinburgh Festival"

It's certainly a useful shorthand when telling people about the amazing time you're having, but in fact, Edinburgh has a wide range of different festivals spread right across the year from April through to (very early) January.

And even in August, five of them take place more or less at the same time but they're actually independent of each other - so when you're here, make it your goal to see something at all of them!

2. Don't be surprised by how busy it gets

Edinburgh’s population grows hugely during August (some even say it doubles) - so yes, it is indeed very, very busy in places - but don’t worry, this is quite normal. Depending on your definition of what's normal, of course.

So be ready for getting from A to B to take a little longer than usual. Although if you're new in town then you won't know what's usual... Anyway, the point is plan your next few venue-to-venue steps ahead of time. Speaking of which...

3. You're going to want a map

With five festivals on the go at the same time, hundreds of venues, thousands of shows and hundreds of thousands of fellow festivalgoers, getting your bearings and planning your route is A Good Idea.

Luckily, we produce a handy pocket-sized map specifically designed for helping you get round the festivals, find those obscure venues and make the most of your time. 

Map banner 2019

4. Be sure to savour the city

Obviously you're going to be in town to experience the greatest collection of festivals, art and culture in the entire world, but don't forget that there's a truly great city to enjoy as well!

Edinburgh is full of architectural beauty and stunning vistas, so be sure to check out at least some of these 10 unmissable spots as you make your way from show to show.

5. Weatherwise, expect the unexpected

Edinburgh's overhead condtions can and do change very quickly, so anticipate the possibility of the odd shower, heatwave or blustery wind. Possibly all within about 10 minutes.

Make sure to pack a light waterproof jacket, some sunglasses and maybe a light woolly hat too, just in case. And check out our article offering more thoughts on festival fun whatever the weather.

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6. Treat yourself to some fine Scottish cuisine

Feeling peckish? Here are a few of our picks for great places to eat and drink but there's a huge choice beyond those. And of course if you want something simpler, you could indulge in some tasty fish and chips, known round these parts as a fish supper.

By the way, you'll probably be offered "salt'n'sauce?" - so say yes if you want to try this local favourite of deliciously vinegary brown liquid on your chips. Mmmmm!

7. Kids will have a great time 

If you're bringing children to the Edinburgh Festivals, you can be assured that there's plenty for them to enjoy too, with lots of the festivals having family friendly events, from film screenings and children's theatre to storytelling and firework watching - there’s plenty to keep the kids out of mischief.

And if you're feeling devilish there’s always a ghost story or two to tell…

8. A little knowledge is a useful thing 

It's worth knowing a bit about the city and its festivals to really make the most of your time here - so for a quick crash course, check out our A-Z of the Festival City.

And if you really get to know the place, you might eventually become a Festivals expert - here's a quick checklist to see how you measure up!

9. Remember that August isn't everything 

There are major festivals happening all year round in Edinburgh. With music, theatre, dance, art, science, storytelling and everything in between, there's every reason to come back at another time of year too... and we hope you do!

Whenever you come to Edinburgh and whichever festivals you're visiting, we hope you have a fantastic time!

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* Restaurant image courtesy of The Witchery by the Castle

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