Official Guide to Edinburgh
  • 11°C

17 reasons to visit Edinburgh in 2017

04 January 2017

The New Year is here and the people of Edinburgh are incredibly excited about what 2017 will bring. From world-famous festivals to iconic celebrations and blockbuster film releases, there are lots of reasons to come and join us in Scotland's Capital over the next 12 months. Read on to discover why you should pay Edinburgh a visit in 2017: 

1. Outdoor spaces to (quite literally) take your breath away

The Crags

Want to start your new year with a breath of fresh air? Edinburgh has some of the best outdoor spaces you can ever hope to find in a major city. From the mighty 650 acre Holyrood Park to the charming Water of Leith Walkway, you will find lots of wonderful landscapes perfect for exploring. 

If you're up for a challenge, have a go at conquering Arthur's Seat, which will give you a fantastic panoramic view of the city for a relatively short climb. Read about more beautiful outdoor walks in Edinburgh > 

2. Experience real Scottish hospitality on Burns Night 

Contini Ceilidh Credit Contini Scottish Cafe And Restaurant

Edinburgh comes alive later this month as the whole country celebrates Scotland's national bard on the 25th January. Lots of venues across the city plan to mark Robert Burns' birthday with live music, ceilidhs, stand-up comedy, poetry, and (of course) plenty of great food and drink.

If you want to experience some proper Scottish hospitality, this is the perfect time of year to visit the Capital. Find out what's happening >

3. 250 years of the New Town

Charlotte Square In Autumn

Stretching the meaning of "New" ever so slightly, 2017 marks the 250th year of the New Town. Building began on the beautiful and iconic Edinburgh city centre area in 1767 from designs put together by young architect James Craig. The wide orderly streets offer a stark contrast to the labyrinth of the Old Town and are considered an architectural masterpiece. It's so well renowned, in fact, that the streets of the New Town make up part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Edinburgh.

Pay a visit to Edinburgh this year and discover for yourself what makes James Craig's creation so spellbinding... 

4. T2 Trainspotting

Trainspotting T2

20 years of waiting come to an end this year when T2 Trainspotting finally goes on general release in cinemas. Lots of scenes of this hotly antipated sequel were filmed on location in Edinburgh, making the city one of the coolest places to visit in 2017.

Follow in the footsteps of Renton, Spud, Begbie and Sickboy and come location spotting after you see the film in cinemas from 27th January. Take a look at our Edinburgh on Film guide >

5. The Queensferry Crossing

Queensferry Crossing At Dusk

[Image credit: Ian Woodhead]

The long-awaited Queensferry Crossing is due to open in May 2017, joining the Forth Road Bridge and the Forth Rail Bridge in connecting the Edinburgh City Region to Fife and the North.

This will make the Scottish Capital more accessible than ever before, and offer incredible photo opportunities of the new structure from nearby South Queensferry. Find out what else you can do in South Queensferry >

6. 70 years of festivals

Festival Fringe Dancers

2017 marks the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Since their inception in 1947, these festivals have grown to become some of the biggest events on the world's cultural calendar. In 2016 the Edinburgh Festival Fringe hosted 50,266 performers in 3,269 shows at 294 venues, making it the largest ever arts festival on the planet. 

Come to Edinburgh this summer and find out what makes Edinburgh's festivals so special. Find out more about the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe > 

7. Discover the city that inspired the magical world of Harry Potter

Herriots

Did you know that the epilogue in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was set in 2017?

JK Rowling wrote the first chapters of the worldwide sensation in an unassuming cafe in Edinburgh, taking inspiration from the streets, the buildings and even the names around her.

Come to Edinburgh and discover the school that inspired Hogwarts, visit Tom Riddle's grave, or even stay in the hotel room where she completed the final chapters of this global phenomenon. Discover the must-visit spots in Edinburgh for Harry Potter fans >

8. Hidden Door Festival

Hidden Door Festival

Uncover the cutting edge of Edinburgh's vibrant arts culture with Hidden Door Festival 2017. Every year, the volunteers behind this unique festival turn an otherwise derelict or forgotten venue into a hub of theatre, dance, music and visual arts.

This year's venue will be the Citadel Theatre in Leith, which is expected to welcome over 10,000 punters to experience the city's most exciting emerging arts talent this 26th May - 4th June. Find out more about this year's programme on the Hidden Door website >

9. Castle Concerts

Castle Concerts 600

At the other end of the spectrum, Edinburgh Castle Esplanade is due to welcome some of the world's biggest music acts once again this summer as part of the Castle Concerts series.

Edinburgh Castle's summer of music kicks off with Olly Murs on the 18th July, followed by Deacon Blue on the 22nd. You can also stick around until August and see the majestic Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo, which runs from 4th until the 26th. 

10. More for your money

National Museum Of Scotland Trex

If you want to stay close to home this year, Edinburgh is a great value option for an exciting city break. The city boasts an impressive range of free attractions, including the National Museum of Scotland, the Museum of Edinburgh, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the National Galleries to name a few.

Add that to the great choice of affordable accomodation, and you can have a fantastic weekend in Scotland's Capital for a lot less than you think. Check out our list of top free hidden gems >

11. Run your fastest marathon 

EMF 2016

[Image credit: Edinburgh Marathon Festival]

Every May, the Capital becomes home to Scotland's largest celebration of running, the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. No matter your running ability, you can get involved and taste the excitement of one of Edinburgh's most exciting weekends. Choose to run 5k, 10k, a half or even the full marathon in one of the world's most beautiful cities.

Not only is it one of the most scenic routes in the country, it's also flat and fast, meaning that you have a great chance of smashing your best marathon time. Want to get fit in time for May? Take a look at some of our favourite Edinburgh running routes >

12. Go time travelling to iconic Outlander locations

JS72744482

Outlander season 3 returns to our screens later this year, so what better excuse to follow in the footsteps of our time-travelling heroes Claire and Jamie?

Lots of iconic Outlander scenes were filmed in the Edinburgh area, so take a day trip to West Lothian and the Borders and discover the locations as seen on screen. Read our Outlander guide >

13. Learn something new

Monkey Business 600

2017 promises to deliver some fascinating museum exhibitions for the people of Edinburgh, many of which are free to enter.

Make some new friends at the Monkey Business display at the National Museum of Scotland, where you can discover impressive secrets of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. Or go on a journey through the fascinating story of maps at the National Library of Scotland in their exhibition You are Here. Take a look at our what's on section to find out what else you can discover in our great museums and galleries > 

14. Enjoy some retail therapy

This Is Edinburgh Shoppers

If you're on the lookout for something special in 2017, look no further than the shopping scene in Edinburgh. The city centre has everything you need, from large big name flagship stores such as John Lewis, Debenhams, Harvey Nichols and House of Frasers, to the independent and vibrant boutiques of Stockbridge, Thistle Street, Rose Street, the Grassmarket and the West End.

No matter what you're looking for, you're bound to find it in one of Edinburgh's fabulous shopping districts. Take a look at our Edinburgh shopping guide >

15. Catch a show

Wonderland

Edinburgh has one of the most vibrant theatre scenes in the UK, with venues such as The Playhouse, The Usher Hall, The Lyceum and The Traverse Theatre showcasing some of the most cutting edge and popular stage productions in the country.

Go down the rabbit hole this January with the spellbinding stage show Wonderland at The Playhouse this January, enjoy some family fun with the Fantastic Mr Fox at the King's Theatre this Spring, or discover a fun adaptation of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale at The Lyceum Theatre in February.

Keep an eye on our what's on page to find out what's happening >

16. Explore further afield

Rabbies Loch Tours

Edinburgh is a fantastic base for exploring the rest of Scotland, so make a proper trip of it and explore the rest of our beautiful country by tour bus or train.

The Highlands, the Lothians and the beautiful Kingdom of Fife are all easily accessible within a couple of hours journey from the Capital, and tour companies like Rabbies Tours can show you the best of what the country has to offer in less than 24 hours from Edinburgh. 

In need of inspiration? Take a look at our guide to the Lothians >

17. Bring in 2018 at one of the biggest parties on the planet

Hogmanay Fireworks Cr Lloyd Smith

When 2017 draws to a close, what better place to celebrate the beginning of the New Year than at one of the most famous celebrations on the globe? Edinburgh's Hogmanay is the UK's biggest outdoor winter festival and includes the beautiful torchlight processsion as well as the world-famous Street Party. Why would you want to start your 2018 anywhere else?

Find out more about Edinburgh's Hogmanay >

Are you planning to visit us in 2017? Let us know by tweeting us @edinburgh on Twitter. In the meantime, start planning your trip with our customised city guides >