First time visitors often have lots of questions about planning a trip to one of Edinburgh's world-famous festivals. Below are a list of those queries that we are most often asked, and if yours is not there, please do contact us.
If you have a question about Edinburgh's wider tourist offering please visit our friends at Marketing Edinburgh. If you are planning a visit to Scotland and are looking for country-wide information then please go to VisitScotland's website.
What are the Edinburgh Festivals?
Edinburgh has a range of major festivals through the year. The most famous period is in August, when multiple festivals run alongside each other, including the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
As well as August though, the city has lots of other great festivals spread throughout the calendar. For information on all of Edinburgh's major festivals, please visit our Festivals page.
How accessible are the festivals for those with limited mobility?
Edinburgh's Festivals work hard to improve their accessibility and inclusivity to ensure that as many people as possble are able to enjoy the festivals. Check out our guide to festival accessibility and inclusion for more information.
How far ahead should I plan my trip?
Most of the festivals release their programmes only a few months in advance, which means many people make the decision to attend without knowing exactly what is on. This should not be a risk: all the festivals pride themselves on the high quality of their programmes and, in August especially, when there are over 50,000 performances, you can be sure of finding something to suit your taste.
Many people use the following guidelines:
- For spring: plan three months ahead
- For summer: plan six months ahead
- For autumn: plan three months ahead
- For winter: plan six months ahead
How do I order a copy of a festival programme?
Each of the festivals has a different programme. When they are released, you can order them from the individual festivals’ websites, or view them online. For links to programmes, please visit the festivals section of our website.
When do tickets go on sale for a festival?
Ticket sales depend on which festival you wish to attend. Check each individual festival for more on programme releases.
How long should I visit for?
There is no optimal length of time to visit the festivals. Many people come to the festivals for two or three days, while international tourists (and locals) tend to see more over a larger number of days.
How long you stay at the festivals will depend on exactly which festivals you want to experience, how much time you have and what you want to see.
When should I visit?
Edinburgh is a beautiful city with lots on no matter what the season, but we suggest you visit during one of the city's world-class festivals. There are festivals throughout the year, so you should be able to pick one that suits your interests and availability. The dates for the forthcoming festivals can be found here. The peak period is during the summer months, from June to September.
Should I book my trip now or wait until the programmes come out?
Owing to the large volume of work at each festival, the programmes tend to be published only a few months in advance. For this reason, you are likely to decide to visit the festivals long before the programmes are released.
The reputation of the festivals is such, however, that you can be assured of seeing the best in whatever topics interest you, from art to science, opera to storytelling.
Whichever festival you decide to attend, you will most likely be delighted, amazed, challenged and eager for more.
How do I perform at a festival?
There are multiple festivals that happen year round in Edinburgh, and each one programmes its events independently. Festivals Edinburgh is not involved in any of the programming.
Most the Edinburgh festivals are curated, meaning that artistic directors select who will perform. Because of this, for most festivals you must wait to be selected to perform, although you can make them aware of your event or production.
The world’s largest festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is the only festival that allows anyone and everyone to perform. You can learn more about performing from the Fringe website.
Information about participating in each of Edinburgh's major festivals can be found or requested using the web and email links below:
- Edinburgh International Science Festival
- Imaginate Festival
- Edinburgh International Film Festival
- Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival (info at foot of page)
- Edinburgh Art Festival
- Edinburgh International Festival
- Edinburgh Festival Fringe
- Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (contact info)
- Edinburgh International Book Festival (contact info)
- Scottish International Storytelling Festival (contact info)
- Edinburgh's Hogmanay
How do I get a stall at the festival or perform on the street?
Street performers and those wishing to be part of the official Fringe Arts and Crafts Markets should apply via the Edinburgh Festival Fringe website.
To perform, busk or trade on Edinburgh’s streets outside of the areas managed by the Fringe Society, you will need to make arrangements with the Council yourself.
Street trading and theatre require a licence; more information and contact details can be found on the City of Edinburgh Council website. Busking is not licensed, but the police have put in place guidelines.
What is the history of Edinburgh's Festivals?
Our festivals date back as far as 1947 and they share a rich and diverse history.
Find out more about how Edinburgh became the world's leading festival city with our History of the Festivals.
Can I take my children to the festivals?
Yes! We have a section dedicated to families enjoying time at our festivals - whatever time of year.
Where's good for a drink or a bite to eat?
There are so many great options around Edinburgh that it's hard for us to pick and choose favourites - however, we've bravely had a go anyway, so check out our Food and Drink page to tips on posh nosh, stylish bars, family friendliness and more.
And if you need to know more, we'd recommend visiting The List magazine's food and drink guide for up to date recommendations, reviews, and contact information.
How easy is it to get online in Edinburgh?
Mobile: Edinburgh is very well covered by the main mobile networks, with a strong 4G signal in most parts of the city centre and beyond, and excellent 3G coverage as well for all your festival app needs.
WiFi: Edinburgh city centre offers free WiFi for residents and visitors. To use the WiFi:
- Turn on WiFi on your mobile phone or other device
- Look for EdiFreeWiFi in your list of available WiFi networks
- Select EdiFreeWiFi and wait for the pop-up window
- Log-on with either your Facebook details or by entering some basic info
- Start enjoying the free WiFi!
Further details can be found at edinburghfreewifi.com.
- Additionally, the city has a wide range of other free WiFi options, with most cafes and bars now offering connectivity, along with all Lothian Buses and Trams.
Major tourist attractions also have generally good WiFi coverage (more information here) - so you should have no problem sharing your pics with friends around the world almost as soon as they're taken.