Official Guide to Edinburgh
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Nine absolute must dos this Edinburgh summer festival season

18 July 2016

It's that time of year again. Every summer, Edinburgh comes alive with some of the biggest and best arts festivals in the world. If you're a first time visitor, it can be a little overwhelming to narrow down what to see and do first. Don't worry, we've got your back - check out our essential list of must dos this summer festival season... 

1. Feel the groove at the City Art Centre

City Art Centre Jazz Venue

New for the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival 2016, the fifth floor of the City Art Centre has been transformed into a unique music venue. With an intimate setting and panoramic views of the city, the atmosphere here is bound to be very special indeed. Catch the likes of Ala.Ni, Bryan Carter and Lorna Reid until the 24 July. 

Find out more about the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival > 

2. Fill your boots with half price tickets

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Posters Credit Fringe Website 500

[Image credit: Edinburgh Festival Fringe]

Experiencing the summer festivals doesn’t have to break the bank, especially when there’s a hut dedicated to discount shows offering some of the best shows at the very best prices. The Half Price Hut will offer discounted tickets for thousands of Fringe Festival performances. The discount will be available for shows that are happening on that day and the following morning only. You can find the Half Price Hut along the Mound precinct, next to the National Galleries of Scotland.

Find out how else you can get the most festival fun for your money here>

3. Stuff your belly with delicious street food

George Square Gardens CAP Gallery Detail Credit Fringe Website 500

[Image credit: Edinburgh Festival Fringe]

If you’re looking for a place to grab a drink or bite to eat before hitting the festival shows, then Edinburgh doesn’t fall short for options. There's plenty of street food and pop-ups stalls offering a variety of foods from all over the world. Make sure you don't get too engrossed or hung up on where to eat or you might miss your show! Prime eating locations include George Square and St Andrews Square Garden. For a full festival experience, be sure to head along to one of these locations this summer and your belly will not be disappointed.

Edinburgh has many markets all year round, find out more>

4. Coffee and cake in Charlotte Square  

Edinburgh International Book Festival Charlotte Sq Cr Book Festival

[Image credit: Edinburgh International Book Festival

Take a trip to the New Town's Charlotte Square during August and you'll be able to experience the wonder of the Edinburgh Book Festival. This literature laden festival will showcase a range of talks and discussions from authors around the world. As you're transported to a world of imagination, why not also take advantage of the coffee and cakes on offer at the festival. Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events returns for the fourth year to provide catering for the festival. They will be prodiving bread from Edinburgh-based bakery Joldo Bakery, cheese scones laced with the finest Mull cheddar.Traditional sweet-treats have an extra twist this year too, with Guinness & Chocolate loaf and gluten-free Orange Marmalade Polenta cake ready to tempt those stopping by.

Find out more about the Edinburgh Book Festival here>

5. March along to The Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo

Massed Pipes And Drums CAP Gallery Detail Credit Festivals 500

[Image credit: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo]

With such a broad array of festivals in August, Edinburgh is pretty amazing. One of the best known features of the festival calender is the month long Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Seeing the Tattoo live from the Edinburgh Castle esplanade, is something people look to tick off their bucket lists, with many travelling thousands of miles to do. The event showcases hundreds of performers including the massed pipes and drums, dancers and other people from different countries around the world. If you're looking for a breathtaking experience during the Edinburgh Festivals then this is an absolute must.

Find out more about the Edinburgh Military Tattoo here> 

6. Be in awe of the Fireworks Concert

Virgin Money Fireworks Concert Dave Steward CAP Gallery Detail Credit Festivals Website 500

[Image credit: Edinburgh International Fesitval]

This year’s Edinburgh International Festival will take place from the 5 – 29 August. To close the festival, each year visitors and residents look forward to a spectacular finale fireworks display. You can catch the fireworks from most areas in the city, from Princes Street, Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill, Inverleith Park or if you’re lucky enough, even your bedroom window. As always, the display is accompanied by a live broadcast of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. This spectacular fireworks show is not to be missed this summer.

Can't wait until the end of the fest? Remember that the free, equally breathtaking opening show Deep Time will project beautiful animations onto the side of Edinburgh Castle on the 7th August. 

Find out more about what’s happening at the Edinburgh International Festival here>

7. Free Edinburgh Art Festival Guided Tours

Evening Sunshine Outside Art Late Central CAP Gallery Detail Credit Festivals Website 500

[Image credit: Edinburgh Art Festival]

Not sure what to see at the Edinburgh Art Festival? Then make sure you book yourself on to one of their free guided tours where you will be whisked around the participating venues to give you a quick snapshot of the festival. No booking is required - simply turn up at the Edinburgh Art Festival Kiosk on Blair Street before the tour departs at 2pm.

Explore the Edinburgh Art Festival here>

8. Discover the street performers on the Royal Mile

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Image 4 500

[Image credit: Edinburgh Festival Fringe]

Some of the finest Edinburgh festival talents can be found dotted along the Royal Mile. They'll be out there throughout August performing their hearts out. So for free, family friendly street performances from magicians, singers, dancers and comedians, take a stroll down the Mile this August to soak up the festival's electric atmosphere. You never know what you might discover! 

Find out what else you can do on the Royal Mile> 

9. Go with the flow

Fringe Dance Performer Cr Janeanne Gilchrist

Sometimes, even with all the planning and best intentions in the world, the best time you can have is simply following where the action takes you. Don't be afraid to take a chance. Go on - pop into that free Fringe show that you've just spotted nearby, stick around a little and see what that street performer has to offer, or just go exploring and uncover some of our city's hidden gems. Whatever you do, go with the flow and you're bound to have an unforgettable festival season. 

Discover some of Edinburgh's top hidden gems >