What's On in Edinburgh
Whether you’re here on a sightseeing city break in November or a show-watching festival session in August, there’s something going on in Edinburgh in every month of the year. Check out our guide for what’s on in Edinburgh every year from January to December. Here at the Scotch Whisky Experience we’re open seven days a week throughout the year (we only close on Christmas Day!), for whisky tastings, tours and events – so you can fit us into your itinerary whatever time of year you’re here. Find out more about our whisky tastings and tour options here.
What better place to raise a dram to Scotland’s very own bard, Robert Burns, than the beautiful city of Edinburgh? Burns Night takes place on January 25th every year, and events, readings, and ceilidhs are held across the city. For an extra special treat, head to our very own Amber Restaurant, where you can tuck into authentic haggis from our very own recipe. Every course can be matched with a whisky that suits it perfectly, by our expert bar team. Even Rabbie Burns himself would raise a glass to that.
Edinburgh is chock-full of cosy bars, romantic restaurants and breathtaking proposal spots for the ultimate city break for Valentine’s Day – the difficult part is choosing who to bring with you! Struggling for the perfect gift for the (whisky) lover in your life? Send them on a truly special Morning Masterclass – a chance to get to grips with Scotch whisky and fall in love with it all over again.
Despite being separated from their Gaelic brothers by the Irish sea, the people of Edinburgh take St Patrick’s Day (17th March) very seriously – though here we drink Scotch whisky instead. Every spring the Six Nations rugby tournament descends on to the cities of the UK – Edinburgh is no exception. With at least two games held in the city at the world-famous Murrayfield Stadium, even if you don’t manage to get a ticket you can be sure of a lively celebratory atmosphere at any pub in town, whatever team you’re cheering for.
Festival season kicks off in style with the much-loved Science Festival and TradFest. With a programme of hundreds of events that appeal to anyone from kids to grown-ups, fanatical foodies to those fascinated in future proofing, the Science Festival is a must-visit for anyone who wants to learn more about the world and how it works. Tradfest looks back at Scotland’s varied and colourful history through workshops, storytelling and performances across the city. Track their events programme down and immerse yourself in Scottish folklore, legend and stories. In the midst of it all are the Beltane celebrations – an event which combines a modern interpretation of Iron Age ritual to take ‘playing with fire’ to a whole new level. A truly special night-time parade to mark the festival of Beltane takes place on Calton Hill on 30th April.
It’s Whisky Month in May, with tasting sessions and appreciation events happening across Scotland – including here at the Scotch Whisky Experience! World Whisky Day is held each year on the third Saturday of May, and is a great chance to get enthused about Scotland’s most famous product. Not only that, Edinburgh is home to the second largest Marathon festival in the country, so if you’ve spent the winter limbering up, now’s the chance to lace up your trainers and take your spot on the starting line. Don’t fancy it? This time of year is perfect for visiting Edinburgh’s many outdoor craft and food markets, too.
The Royal Highland Show takes place in June, with a chance to see Scotland’s iconic Highland cows lining up for a crack at the blue rosette. A perfect family day out, the Show also features food markets showcasing authentic Scottish produce, cookery demonstrations, outdoor pursuits and live entertainment from across Scotland. Further into town, prepare to be wowed by the Edinburgh International Film Festival, which rolls out a stellar programme of must-see movies across two weeks in June.
If you’re lucky (and early) enough, get yourself a ticket to one of Edinburgh Castle’s concert series, taking place on the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade at selected dates during July. Previous artists to use the castle as a stunning backdrop for a truly unique show experience have included Lionel Ritchie, Westlife, Jessie J and the Proclaimers. For jazz, blues and world music fans, the Edinburgh Jazz Festival takes place in July, the perfect excuse to descend into some of the city’s much-loved music haunts for a handpicked line-up guaranteed to get your feet tapping. July is also the month for the National Museum of Scotland’s summer holiday programme – family-friendly days out and activities to keep the kids’ boredom at bay, whatever their age.
August is when it all kicks off for Edinburgh’s festivals, putting the city on the world map with ground-breaking music, comedy, art, dance, poetry and everything in between. With the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and the Edinburgh International Festival all gearing up to showcase incredible programmes of shows, make sure you stop off in the city to say you were there to see it all happen. Why not make it special and book yourself a dining package in our Amber Restaurant before making the very short journey to the Edinburgh Castle esplanade to watch the evening performance from the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo? An amazing experience that includes a tutored whisky tasting and a private pre-concert show from the Tattoo players.
September is when it all quietens down in Edinburgh, while the weather remains warm, light and sunny – perfect for exploring this beautiful city at your leisure. Take a stroll through the Meadows or the Royal Botanic Gardens, explore one of Edinburgh’s many art galleries and museums, or simply use the time to sit back in a café or quiet pub and soak up the calmer atmosphere. Keep an eye out for smaller events popping up around the city for a glimpse of Edinburgh at its most authentic – including Doors Open Day, where visitors and locals can gain free access to some of Scotland’s most fascinating historical or significant buildings, many of which are closed to the public throughout the year.
The month where the days get shorter and things start to go bump in the night, Edinburgh’s rich, sometimes gory history make for some truly spine-chilling stories, especially during the month of Hallowe'en. Book yourself onto one of the city’s many ghost tours, lots of whom have access to the vaults and passages underfoot on the Royal Mile, and to some of the most haunted corners and crypts across the city. For a more family-friendly line-up, check out the programme for the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, held at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. A series of events, discussions, workshops that celebrate modern and contemporary storytelling, it’s the perfect autumn event for the whole family.
Plenty of hills = plenty of places to watch the firework displays on Bonfire Night (5th November) each year. The Edinburgh Observatory, Calton Hill or even the crags of Arthur’s Seat make fantastic spots to watch the fireworks across the city, a sight made even more special with the addition of a hot toddy to warm the cockles (whisky as an optional extra). It’s also the month that kicks off Edinburgh’s winter festivals, with St Andrew’s Day on the 30th November – look out for celebrations of traditional stories and food across the city, all in the name of Scotland’s Patron Saint.
There’s nothing quite as magical as Edinburgh at Christmas – the twinkling lights strung up across the streets of the Old and New Town, warming food and drink from the German Christmas Market on Princes Street, and even our very own ‘Whiskmas Tree’ are bound to put a smile on your face during the festive season. Not be outdone, the Magic Festival is now also held during December, bringing some extra sparkle to the festive season. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations are the perfect way to usher in a new year, and should be on every seasoned traveller’s lifetime bucket list. With a street party a mile long, concerts in Princes Street Gardens, and an exquisite firework display from Edinburgh Castle which can be seen from across the city at midnight, Hogmanay is the best way to immerse yourself in Edinburgh’s fun-loving party spirit.
June: Royal Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland
July: Edinburgh Castle
August: Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society (James Ratchford www.shootthemagic.com)
September: Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh
October: Scottish Storytelling Centre