7 Spooky Facts about Edinburgh's Festivals

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Edinburgh is a town with a dark and gruesome history, and (particularly at the Storytelling Festival) tales aplenty of ghosts, ghouls and goblins... So if you're feeling brave, maybe you could meet some of the city's famous ghostly residents at some of our most haunted festival venues! 

Believe it or not, the Scottish capital is said to be the most haunted city in the world, and it's not hard to see why. Secret passageways abound, dark underground vaults are round every corner, and every so often there's the chilling, all-consuming fog known as... the Haar...

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1. The haunted hound...

Home to the world famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh Castle is also said to host a phantom piper, a headless drummer, the spirits of French prisoners from the Seven Years' War, colonial prisoners from the American Revolutionary War and even the spirit of a dog wandering in the castle grounds' dog cemetery. So if you're at the Tattoo, keep an eye out - you might just see a spooky spaniel, a creepy corgie or a mysterious mauzer!

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2. What lies beneath...

The Royal Mile sees millions of festival revellers pass through every year, enjoying the atmosphere and watching Edinburgh Festival Fringe performances. But the Mile’s other, older, more transparent residents have no time for shows. Explore the dark Vaults lying waiting beneath the streets, go down the former plague streets of Mary King’s Close and look out in the early morning for a sign of past residents trying to get back - after all, why did the ghost cross the Royal Mile? To get back from the Other Side of course. 

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3. The man in the grey coat...

Should you find yourself taking in an Edinburgh International Festival show at the Edinburgh Playhouse, don’t forget to leave a seat for their resident ghoul, Albert. Legend has it this grey-coated gentleman ended his life in the building... and has been haunting Britain's largest theatre ever since.

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4. The poor little drummer boy...

At the corner of the Royal Mile and South Bridge sits the Tron Kirk, a 17th century church which for many years hosted performances at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival. The Kirk reportedly has a secret tunnel running all the way up to the Castle, and the story goes that on a quiet night you might just hear the voice little drummer boy who was sent down the tunnel in the 1880s... and never seen again.

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5. Unseen ivories...

If you're a fan of Edinburgh International Book Festival, then we're sorry to tell you that Charlotte Square is said to be inhabited by both a ghostly beggar and a monk wandering the gardens in traditional habit attire. But don’t panic, there’s also a phantom piano player who might seem to serenade you as you relax with a good book.

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6. The ill-fated illusionist...

The Edinburgh International Film Festival’s opening gala at Edinburgh Festival Theatre is always a glamorous affair, but look out for an uninvited guest on the red carpet. It’s said to be the famous illusionist Sigmund Neuberger, aka The Great Lafayette, who perished in a fire in 1911, where the Empire Theatre stood. His ghost has haunted the newer theatre that was built on the Empire's ruins, playing tricks on the poor staff ever since.

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7. The raging reformer...

Finally, it’s no secret that John Knox House is one of the oldest and most historic venues in Edinburgh. Now home to the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, the 16th century building is associated with one of the most dramatic periods in Scotland's past, the Reformation. And rumour has it that, unimpressed with seeing his home turned into a place of mythology and folklore, Knox’s ghost has possessed all of the Storytelling Centre's computers!

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