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10 Things to Do in Edinburgh in October

October in Edinburgh is synonymous with movie parties, hot chocolate, pumpkins and lots of Halloween decorations. Stick around and discover the best things to do this month in this charming city.

Katherine Betances

Katherine Betances

8 min read

10 Things to Do in Edinburgh in October

Arthur's Seat | ©Yves Alarie

October is undoubtedly one of the best months of the year to enjoy Edinburgh; with the cold winter a few weeks away, Halloween celebrations and many other fun events invade the city's spaces. Curious to know what you can expect from a trip to the city during this month? Here you will have all the information you need to know!

But first, how many days are on your travel itinerary? No matter when you visit, there are countless things to see and do in Edinburgh. Take a look at the following itineraries, combine them with the activities I suggest below and put together the perfect trip.

1. Samhuinn Fire Festival - Fire and Acrobats Show

People at the Samhuinn Fire Festival| ©Ben Mosely
People at the Samhuinn Fire Festival| ©Ben Mosely

It is an open-air parade-type arts festival that takes place every year on Halloween night in Calton Hill. You can enjoy talented performers and acrobats performing impressive feats and fire dances to the beat of drums and impressive costumes.

The event is organized by the Beltane Fire Society as a way of marking the change of season and passing on the Celtic New Year celebrations to younger audiences. If you are in Edinburgh for Halloween night you can't miss it.

Where it takes place

The event takes place at the top of Calton Hill. Located right next to the old town, access to this area of the city is very easy. There are two bus stops just 5 minutes away: Leopold Place and St Andrew's House.

How to buy tickets

The celebration begins after 19h; the entrance fee for an adult ticket is approximately 10€, although it can be purchased online at a cheaper price. On the official website you can find the information.

2. Attend the Edinburgh Horror Festival

At the Edinburgh Dungeon| ©JJ Davis
At the Edinburgh Dungeon| ©JJ Davis

During the last days of October, usually starting on the 27th, the Edinburgh Horror Festival takes place in the city. During the days in which it is held, the event combines multiple art forms, such as theater shows, magic, comedy, screenings of classic horror films and more.

It is one of the most anticipated Halloween events in the city, especially for young audiences, so don't hesitate to join in.

Where it takes place

Different locations including the Banshee Labyrinth, the Edinburgh Dungeon and more. For more details about the dates and the exact program of activities it is best to visit the official website Edinburgh Horror Fest where the information is published in advance.

How to buy tickets

On the official website of the festival you will find the necessary information regarding the purchase of tickets.

3. Oktoberfest also takes place in Edinburgh

Oktoberfest| ©AlanGardner74
Oktoberfest| ©AlanGardner74

The most popular beer festival in the world also takes place in the Scottish capital every year. The celebrations are diverse and although the agenda is modified each year depending on the addition or deletion of new events and activities, it usually lasts an average of two weeks.

To be aware of the calendar of activities, my recommendation is to keep an eye on the official website Edinburg Oktoberfest, where the calendar of activities that will take place in the city is shared.

Where it takes place

Historically the event has been held in several locations: Murrayfield Stadium; Lane 7 bowling alley and bar in St James Quarter; Princes Street Gardens and others.

How to buy tickets

Depending on the location and activities, admission to the event may be free or require a fee of no more than €10 per person. Minors are not allowed to participate.

4. Autumn Nights at Five Sisters Zoo

Autumn Nights at Five Sisters Zoo| ©Sean M
Autumn Nights at Five Sisters Zoo| ©Sean M

In the last days of October, usually starting on the 22nd, the local zoo Five Sisters Zoo celebrates its autumn nights. If you are visiting Edinburgh with children, you won't want to miss this beautiful celebration.

It consists of the transformation of its facilities into a gigantic park of lights. The large areas of the park are adorned with colored lights complemented with water effects and music. The animal enclosures are illuminated in a soft and discreet way so as not to disturb the creatures, but allowing the attendees to observe them.

In addition to all this fun, there are bonfires to enjoy toasted marshmallows, stands to buy hot drinks and other snacks.

Where it takes place

The light park is available to the public Thursday through Sunday; through mid-November. The Five Sister Zoo is located on the outskirts of the city and the best way to get there is to take the Scotrail train from the center of Edinburgh and get off at West Calder station. From here take the 276 bus from LothianCountry which will drop you off just 5 minutes walk from the zoo entrance.

How to Buy Tickets

Tickets can be purchased directly from the Five Sister Zoo website from the beginning of October.

5. Join in the Halloween Horror Tours

Castle where the terror tour takes place| ©Stephen Bridger
Castle where the terror tour takes place| ©Stephen Bridger

Edinburgh is a city full of mysteries, so Halloween is a celebration that they take very seriously. You can join the party in many ways and one of my favorites, besides a ghost tour of Edinburgh, are their fun and scary tours through castles and haunted houses.

Do not hesitate to participate in any of them if you find yourself in the city during the days leading up to Halloween.

The Halloween Terror Trail

From the third week of October until Halloween itself, a self-directed trail of terror is organized at Lauriston Castle. It is one of the most fun family activities to do in Edinburgh during the celebration of Halloween.

  • Location and directions: Lauriston Castle, a little way out of the center of Edinburgh. You will need to take bus 43 from St Andrew's House station, the stop is a 15 minute walk from the castle.
  • Price: Free activity

Haunted Halloween Trail

At Newhailes you can enjoy a trail of terror generally available only on October 30 and 31. The terrifying walk will take you through the forest surrounding the beautiful Palladian mansion of Newhailes.

  • Location and directions: Newhailes Estate, located on the outskirts of Edinburgh you will need to take the number 30 bus from North Bridge Station.
  • Price: approximately €6 per participant.

Book a ghost and mystery tour in Edinburgh

6. Attend the International Storytelling Festival

At the International Storytelling Festival| ©Kevin D
At the International Storytelling Festival| ©Kevin D

A multi-day event focused on the traditional art of storytelling takes place in Edinburgh from mid to late October. In addition to entertaining, the aim is to preserve the tradition of storytelling and pass it on to younger generations.

Because of this, the event brings together talented native storytellers from Scotland and around the world; and is often accompanied by live musicians and even sign language translators, which fosters an atmosphere of greater intimacy and inclusiveness.

It is one of the most anticipated celebrations by locals, so children and adults alike have a great time during the Storytellers Festival.

Where it takes place

This event is a traditional festival whose inception dates back to 1939 and since 2006 is held every year at the Scottish Storytelling Center located on High Street, not far from Edinburgh Castle.

How to buy tickets

Tickets for the performances can cost around 20€ for an adult ticket and can be purchased directly from the official website of the SISF (Scottish International Storytelling Festival). It is wise to check the website before the trip to find out about the program of events, the dates and the artists who will be performing.

7. Get to know the beautiful pumpkin patch at Craige's pumpkin farm

Craige Pumpkin Farm| ©Tom D
Craige Pumpkin Farm| ©Tom D

With the arrival of autumn in Edinburgh, pumpkin season begins and Craige Farm offers a quiet and fun place to enjoy this wholesome family activity.

The picking season begins in mid-September and officially ends on Halloween, so you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the experience.

On site you will find a nice market of organic and artisanal products, many originals from the farm itself and other local producers.

Where it takes place

You will need to make your way to the farm on the outskirts of the city. If you take the 43 bus from St Andrew's House station in central Edinburgh, the nearest stop is about a 15 minute walk.

How to buy tickets

Bookings are made directly on the official Craigie'sFarmwebsite.

8. Admire the autumn ivy on Edinburgh's landmarks

Carlowrie Castle| ©david.england18
Carlowrie Castle| ©david.england18

By far one of the best things to do in Edinburgh, and one that you can only do in this season, is to see the city's historic buildings and constructions covered in autumn colors.

Although the autumn season starts in September, October is the best month to enjoy the fall colors.

Carlowrie Castle

When it comes to enjoying **Edinburgh'**s red ivy, Carlowrie Castle is a must-see. Although it is located on the outskirts of the city (very close to the airport in case you want to stop just after arriving in the city), the visit is totally worth it. The building is a 19th century mansion, totally spectacular.

Liberton Kirk

Liberton Church is another beautiful place to photograph covered in red ivy during autumn and its location is much more accessible. From the center of Edinburgh you can get there by taking bus 7 from the Elm Row stop; this will take you on a nice ride of about 25 minutes.

Rothesay Terrace

In the West End, specifically on the corner of Rothesay Terrace, there is a beautiful four-story ivy-covered residential building that turns a vivid and beautiful red color every year in the fall.

9. Head to Princes Street Gardens to photograph autumn in Edinburgh

Princes Street Garden| ©Mari Smith
Princes Street Garden| ©Mari Smith

The beautiful and spacious Princes Street Gardens are arguably the best place in all of central Edinburgh to enjoy the greenery and beautiful autumn colors.

In addition to the opportunity to enjoy the greenery, the park is home to attractions such as the Scott Monument, the Gardener's Hut and the Floral Clock, which becomes especially beautiful during this time of year.

If you want to do a section of autumn photos in Edinburgh, this is the perfect place. The trees along Princes Street turn the characteristic reddish-orange color, creating beautiful frames for pictures of Edinburgh Castle.

Be sure to visit the famous "lone red tree" just below the Castle on Castell Hill near the West End.

Book a guided tour of Edinburgh

10. Warm up with a glass of whisky

Glass of Whisky| ©Joshua Rappeneker
Glass of Whisky| ©Joshua Rappeneker

If you enjoy this drink and travel to Edinburgh in one of its cold months, you can not miss the opportunity to warm up while enjoying the Scotch Whisky Experience.

The city organizes several tours that include visiting some of the best distilleries and having a tasting of the product while learning about the unique aspects related to the production, history and tradition of the famous Scotch whisky.

In the month of October the experience takes on a different nuance, since the sensations caused by the warmth of a good whiskey are perfect to contrast the cold of the streets that since the middle of the month is felt more and more strongly.

Book a whisky tour of Edinburgh