Edinburgh’s Festivals are a showcase of humanity’s skill, talent and ingenuity, and we believe everyone should have an equal opportuntiy to enjoy them. Our festivals and their venues have made great efforts to offer more accessible locations, better staff training and a wider range of inclusive performances such as British Sign Language interpretation, Audio-Description and Relaxed performances. This continuing work is aimed at offering a great experience to anyone and everyone who wants to experience our world leading festival city.
Getting Around Edinburgh
For wheelchair users or people with limited mobility, some parts of Edinburgh can present a challenge, including the Old Town, built on two layers with many cobbled streets, narrow closes and twisting staircases. Even this area is certainly not to be considered inaccessible though, as there are usually different ways to get where you need to be. The more modern New Town area is relatively flat and has generally good pavements making navigation simpler. It is worth remembering though that, during the peak August period, the streets are almost always very busy so give yourself some extra time getting from A to B if you are visiting at that time.
TAXI: To travel further across the city, the entire fleets of Edinburgh's two main black cab firms are wheelchair accessible, with over 900 taxis between them. Taxis can enter most places in Edinburgh, including the Castle Esplanade for the Tattoo, provided you’ve let the Tattoo know beforehand. For more information and advice, contact City Cabs either online or by phone [+44 131 228 1211] or Central Taxis either online or by phone [+44 131 229 2468].
BUS: Similarly, Lothian Buses has a range of accessibility features on every bus in their fleet, including low entrances, retractable ramps, one dedicated wheelchair space per bus and more.
CAR: You can find the location of disabled parking places in Edinburgh HERE
RAIL: Edinburgh has two main train stations and both have accessibility information available online - Haymarket in the West End and Waverley in the City Centre.
AIR: Edinburgh Airport has put together a set of factsheets, aimed at ensuring all of their passengers have the best experience possible when using the airport
HANDY TIP: If you don’t want to move around too much, remember that many of our festival venues are often close together, food is almost always nearby, and a few hundred square metres can easily contain enough shows to fill a week! For example, International Festival shows at Festival are just around the corner from Art Festival exhibitions at the Talbot Rice Gallery which is only a short distance from a myriad of Fringe shows at Bristo Square. It's easy to see a lot while not moving too far.
Festivals and Venues
- Multiple venues, some changing yearly, most wheelchair accessible
- Many of Edinburgh's buildings are historical and listed, mean that unfortunately some festival venues are unable to have modern levels of access.
- Actions been taken to significantly improve their levels of access, with physical additions such as ramps and lifts as well as staff training and specialised equipment like audio-description headsets and loop systems.
- We advise contacting the specific festival, as listed below, if you want can't find the information you're looking for or simply want advice on access to individual shows/venues.
- Wide range of signed, audio-described and relaxed performances
- Venue access information included in event listings and brochures
- Festival brochures usually available in wide variety of formats
- Speciifc faciltiies, such as sensory backpacks for children and adults, aim to help those who might find the festival environment overwhelming.
Specific Festival Information
Details about Edinburgh major festivals and their access and inclusion services are below [in calendar order]. Please note that specific dates vary each year.
- Edinburgh Science Festival (usually March/April): You can find general access information HERE - and if you have a specific access query, please call +44 131 553 0325 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Edinburgh International Children's Festival (usually May/June): You can find general access information HERE - and if you have a specific access query, please call +44 131 225 8050 or email email@example.com
- Edinburgh International Film Festival (usually June): You can find general access information HERE - and if you have a specific access query, please call +44 131 2228 2688 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival (usually July): If you have a specific access query, please call +44 131 467 5200 or email email@example.com
- Edinburgh Art Festival (July/August): You can find general access information HERE - and If you have a specific access query, please call +44 131 226 6558 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (August): You can find general access information HERE [scroll down the page link], noting that unlike all our other festivals, the Tattoo is a single open air venue - and If you have a specific access query, please call +44 131 225 1188 or email email@example.com
- Edinburgh International Festival (August): You can find general access information HERE - and If you have a specific access query, please call +44 131 473 2056 (Textphone users prefix with 18001) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Edinburgh Festival Fringe (August): You can find general access information HERE - and If you have a specific access query, please call +44 131 226 0002 or email email@example.com
- Edinburgh International Book Festival (August): You can find general access information HERE - and If you have a specific access query, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Scottish International Storytelling Festival (October/November): You can find general access information HERE - and If you have a specific access query, please call +44 131 556 9579 or email email@example.com
- Edinburgh’s Hogmanay (December/January): Large open air venue with multiple spaces. Accessibility is good, but be aware that very large crowds may make some areas difficult to use. New access information is being prepared.
Access Information for permanent city cultural venues
- City Art Centre: See the full access statement here.
- Pleasance: See the full access statement here
- National Museum of Scotland: See the full access statement here
- Dynamic Earth: See the full access statement here and the sensory map here
- Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh: Download full access statement here
- Edinburgh Zoo: Download full access statement here
- Summerhall: Read full access statement here
Other useful information
Toilets: There 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 firstname.lastname@example.org