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10 Things to Do in Edinburgh in August

With the best festivals of the year happening throughout the month, August is by far the ideal time to visit Edinburgh, especially for those who love fun and art. Here's everything you need to know!

Katherine Betances

Katherine Betances

9 min read

10 Things to Do in Edinburgh in August

Walter Scott Monument | @Radu Daniel

As you may already know, in addition to all the usual things to see and do in Edinburgh, in August there are several great festivals taking place during that month. Of course, in addition to these festivals, the Scottish capital will also allow you to enjoy nature, its beautiful castles, the surrounding beaches and the delicious craft beer that is produced here.

Finally, if in addition to the month of August your visit includes the last days of July in Edinburgh or the first days of September; check the activities for those months when planning your itinerary.

1. Edinburgh International Festival - Classical music, dance and theater

Edinburgh International Festival| ©Nik Watt
Edinburgh International Festival| ©Nik Watt

In the last three weeks of August, the event that started the tradition of festivals in this city is enjoyed in Edinburgh. The International Festival is given the task of presenting outstanding figures of classical music, performing arts and dance.

To this end, the team that makes up the event travels the stages of the world in search of the most outstanding and creative artists to bring to Edinburgh unique collaborations and praised by international critics.

Since its founding in 1947, the international Festival has had prominent patrons including: Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother); Queen Elizabeth II and the Earl of Forfar.

Where it takes place

At Edinburgh's major theaters and concert halls. These include the King's Theatre, the Edinburgh Playhouse, the Traverse Theatre, the Royal Lyceum Theatre, the Bedlam Theatre and more.

How to buy tickets

Tickets can be purchased directly from the Edinburgh International Festival website. They are usually available, with prices, from the first months of the year.

2. Festival Fringe - Edinburgh's most diverse festival

Festival Fringe| ©Edinburgh
Festival Fringe| ©Edinburgh

The Fringe is arguably the most famous of Edinburgh's festivals, the reason? Simple, it's an open access event whose main purpose is to provide stage space to anyone who wants to put on a show. It takes place in August for virtually the entire month.

Like the International Festival, it began to be held in 1947, when the production companies that were not invited decided to go their own way and set up a second, more democratic festival in parallel.

Fringe describes itself as a world-leading celebration of art and culture. Due to the diversity of shows offered each year, the organizers have categorized the shows into sections, highlighting the following: theater, comedy, dance, circus, children's shows, cabaret shows, musicals, opera, exhibitions, music and comedy, one of the most anticipated and acclaimed sections.

Where it takes place

Literally all over the city! bars, discos, improvised stages and much more. You need to keep an eye on the event's website and social networks for more information.

How to buy tickets

You can purchase your tickets directly on the Festival website or once you are in town. These are on sale at the Fringe Festival Society offices located on the Royal Mile. There are also free shows so be sure to check the calendar.

3. International Film Festival - The best of the seventh art

International Film Festival| ©MV
International Film Festival| ©MV

A program characterized by an innovative approach that includes short films, experimental cinema and genre documentaries. This festival is especially famous for the variety of premieres that take place there. As an example, over the years famous films such as Ratatouille, Billy Elliot or 35 Shots of Rum have premiered at this event.

The festival lasts 7 days and, like other famous festivals in Edinburgh, was born in 1947. It usually takes place from the middle of the month. Every year film lovers from Scotland as well as from different corners of the world gather here every year.

Where it takes place

Usually the event is held at the Edinburgh Filmhouse as the main venue; however other venues in Edinburgh where numerous presentations are also held are: the Fountain Park Cineworld, the Edinburgh Theatre Festival and the Odeon Lothian Road.

How to buy tickets

Ticket sales for both short and feature film screenings are subject to each year's schedule and can be purchased directly on the website or at the box office of the participating screening venue. For example, the Edinburgh Filmhouse dedicates a section of its website to information about the event each year.

4. Royal Military Tattoo Festival - Enjoy the most talented military bands from around the world

Royal Military Tattoo Festival| ©Dan McCarthy
Royal Military Tattoo Festival| ©Dan McCarthy

For two or three weeks in August, the Royal Military Tattoo takes place, an event whose objective is to showcase the talent of numerous artists from different nations, but with a particular focus: military bands. This show includes the presentation of musicians, dancers and acrobats, all dressed in luxurious and elaborate uniforms.

Throughout history, at least 40 nations have participated in the event; over the years it has seen everything from New Zealand bagpipe bands to youth acrobat teamson motorcycles.

Where it takes place

Since its founding in 1950, the festival has taken place every year on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle and is considered one of the most iconic events in the city's annual calendar.

How to buy tickets

Tickets are sold well in advance and can be purchased directly from the EdinburghTattoo event website. It's good to keep in mind that proceeds from the event are used to support various charitable causes.

5. To keep the party going, check out Edinburgh's other festivals

Edinburgh Arts Festival| ©The Fruitmarket Gallery
Edinburgh Arts Festival| ©The Fruitmarket Gallery

The celebration of festivals continues non-stop throughout the month of August. Here is some information about other lesser known international events, but equally very interesting, that you might consider enjoying during your stay in the city.

Edinburgh Mela

  • What to expect: Founded in 1995, it is a festival that celebrates the city's ethnic minority communities, including traditions from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, various regions of Africa and others.
  • Where: Since 2010 it has been held at the Link Leith, with 3 stages for events, food and drink area, bazaar area and children's area.
  • Tickets: Approximately 5 € the adult ticket. Free for children under 12 years.

Edinburgh International Book Festival

  • What to expect: This festival lasts between 15 to 20 days and exhausts an extensive calendar of activities that includes autograph signings, talks, cultural and political discussions around different topics; they also have a didactic learning program for children.
  • Where: During the last three weeks of August in Charlotte Square.
  • Tickets: Adult-focused events can cost between €9 and €18, while children's events cost between €3 and €9.

Edinburgh Art Festival

  • What to expect: During the festival season major galleries, museums and exhibition spaces in the city celebrate the best and most outstanding of the visual arts; bringing together local talent and international talent with emerging figures.
  • Where: Art Festival activities take place at venues such as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, The National Galleries of Scotland, Jupiter Artland and more.
  • How to buy tickets: The vast majority of the exhibitions are free. It is advisable to look carefully at the program website days before the trip for more information.

6. Spend an afternoon shopping at the West End Craft Fair

West End Craft Fair| ©Leonel K
West End Craft Fair| ©Leonel K

Steeped in the festival atmosphere is the West End Fair, where no less than 100 artists and artisans from all corners of the country gather. The aim is to present a truly unique selection of jewelry, clothing and many other pieces of contemporary wear.

If you find yourself in Edinburgh these days it is well worth spending an afternoon exploring the stalls. The fair runs throughout the month.

If you like quirky and original fashion accessories, explore the vintage stores in Stockbridge. On the other hand, if you're interested in summer sales, be sure to visit the stores on Princes Street, where discounted merchandise is on display every Thursday evening.

Where it takes place

In the area known as West End, located on the western edge of the city center. It is famous for elegant boutiques and nice bars.

How to buy tickets

They are not required, it is a free event with free admission to the public.

7. August is the last month to enjoy the beaches in Edinburgh

Gullane Beach Edinburgh| ©Rev Jacqui
Gullane Beach Edinburgh| ©Rev Jacqui

The coastal area of Edinburgh is obviously a less frequented area by tourists, who head to this part of the country moved by the rich history and cultural heritage of the Scottish city.

However, by the end of August the good summer temperatures begin to recede, making it a good opportunity to enjoy the waters.

Gullane Beach Edinburgh:

In this area are some of the best golf courses in the country. Located 45 minutes drive from the center of Edinburgh, taking the road to North Berwick. By public transport you can catch the 124 bus from St Andrew's House station.

Yellowcraigs Beach

It is a 45 minute drive. By public transport you should take the 124 bus from St Andrew's House station, which will take you to Yellowcraigs Parks, a 20 minute walk from the Beach.

Cramond Beach

It is a beautiful beach located in front of the Firth of Forth sea where you will be able to observe the coast from the promenade. It is one of the closest beaches and is only a 20 minute drive away. Taking the 29 bus at the Foot Of The Mound stop will leave you just 5 minutes walk from the coast.

8. Check out the best rooftop bars in Edinburgh

Visiting Rooftop 51| ©Janis M
Visiting Rooftop 51| ©Janis M

Rooftop bars are a great alternative to enjoy almost all year round, but especially on cool summer nights. If you are looking for plans to enjoy with friends, family or for a romantic getaway with your partner, this is the perfect plan!

In the city you will find many centers that meet this entertainment format. Here are my favorites.

Nor' Loft Rooftop and Champagne Bar

Located on the rooftop of the Market Street Hotel, this establishment offers fabulous views of the Scott Monument and Princes Street Garden, one of the best shopping spots in the city.

Rooftop 51

A mixed indoor/outdoor bar located on the rooftop of the Moxy Hotel. It is characterized by two very attractive qualities: the presence of young people and for offering fabulous views of Edinburgh Castle, especially if you visit during the day.

SKYbar

It is one of the most exclusive rooftop bars in the city. Located in the Doubletree Hilton the space is mainly used for cocktail type events and weddings. They are open to the public a couple of days a week.

Cold Town House

If you're looking for a relaxed and fun atmosphere, Cold Town is your place. One of Edinburgh's most unstructured rooftop bars where you'll find a wide selection of craft beer and pizza cooked in old stone and wood-fired ovens.

Book a whisky tour in Edinburgh

9. Take a tour of the city's most beautiful Beer Gardens

Exterior of The Last Drop| ©Gary L
Exterior of The Last Drop| ©Gary L

The Beer Gardens in Edinburgh are beer garden style spaces with a terrace that are very popular with locals. It's the perfect outing when the sun is shining on a Wednesday afternoon to enjoy the good weather with friends, so if you're only in town for two or three days include at least one of the following options.

The Last Drop

If you are looking for a traditional Scottish pub this is a great option. Located in Grassmarket Square, the Last Drop is also an excellent option if you are looking for good music in the evening.

The White Hart Inn

Another popular and busy pub located in the Grassmarket area. Urban legends say that the place is haunted and perhaps this is the reason for its popularity.

Subway Social's Secret Garden

The landscaped roofs of this place are really beautiful, it is worth going just for the beautiful night lighting of the space.

Cold Town House

It offers a wide selection of Neapolitan pizza cooked in stone and wood-fired ovens. When the skies are clear, the roll-up roof of this pub 's terrace is released for beautiful views of Edinburgh Castle.

Book a guided tour of Edinburgh

10. Enjoy a quiet afternoon in nature

Princes Street Gardens in spring| ©Stuart Montgomery
Princes Street Gardens in spring| ©Stuart Montgomery

Summer is the best time to enjoy the green and landscaped spaces in the center of Edinburgh. Here are two spaces you shouldn't miss.

Princes Street Gardens

Considered the most beautiful garden area in Edinburgh, you can't leave the city without lying in the sun on the grass of Princes Street Gardens.

Even during the crazy festival season, this space is much quieter than the rest of the city, so you can take the opportunity to have a fun picnic with your friends.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The Botanical Garden space is divided into four distinct areas allegorical to four major zones of the planet: aquatic plants, European plants, North American plants and plants from the southern hemisphere of America.

The best time to visit is undoubtedly during the summer, when all the vegetation on display is at its most splendorous.