Moanin Bones at Whistle Binkies
Image Credit: Waystead Photography

Live Music Bars in Edinburgh

You don’t need to look far to find a fantastic array of live music in Edinburgh. On any given night of the week a variety of music is performed in the city’s pubs and bars.

Ideal for those who prefer their music on a smaller, more intimate level, these bars pride themselves on hosting established artists as well as shining a light on up-and-coming talent.

Combining great music with good food and drink in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, have a look at our top live music bars for a night of fun and friendly entertainment…..


Sandy Bells sign
1.

Folk and Traditional Music Bars

Visit today for toe-tapping harmonic tunes that have been played by Scots musicians for centuries.

A pioneer of the Scottish folk music scene, Sandy Bell’s has been attracting musicians, writers and poets since the 1920’s – Barbara Dickson, Billy Connolly and Gerry Rafferty have all dropped by for an impromptu performance. If the walls of The Royal Oak  could speak, they would certainly have a tale to tell – this 200 year old pub has been at the heart of the Scottish folk music scene since the 1960s. Pop along to hear live music every night, with piano, guitar and other instruments free to use, if you want to join in.

Popular with locals and visitors alike, both The Captain’s Bar and The Black Cat offer lively folk music performances, as well as a good selection of craft beer to sip while you enjoy the lively tunes.

For family-friendly music taverns, The Ensign Ewart and The Fiddler’s Arms are worth visiting, the latter of which also has a tasty food menu with a firm emphasis on Scottish dining. If you want to feed your eyes, as well as your ears, be sure to pay a visit to The Voodoo Rooms. This ornate bar was originally intended to be a gas appliance showroom before it became a hotel and then The Cafe Royal Bistro Bar. Today, the building’s original features have been restored to their former glory and it’s a popular city centre venue showcasing leading Scottish folk singers.

What was once a mission hall before being converted into a pub in 1800, the Auld Hundred is one of Rose Street’s oldest pubs. Admire their epic whisky selection, before taking your seat and enjoying live music evening performances, which run every Thursday to Monday. Or if you fancy yourself as a budding musician, why not put your skills to the test with their regular Sunday Open Mic night.


Fiddler Arms
2.

Irish Folk Music Bars

Visit for tuneful fast jigs and reels that take their roots from Irish folklore.

Biddy Mulligans, located in the Grassmarket, is one of Edinburgh’s most popular traditional bars. Not only do they provide live music every night, but it’s a great spot to watch live sports on large screens. Fill up with their delicious food, washed down with an Irish ale. Head to the Cowgate area and you’ll come across Dropkick Murphys. Offering live music 7 days a week, it resounds with the uplifting sounds of Irish folk music. Be sure to order a pint of the black stuff to truly appreciate the jigs and reels.

Or indulge your literary side in the Victoria Street bar named after Irish writer James Joyce’s novel, Finnegan’s Wake. Live music till late can be found at this lively Irish themed bar each night, and it’s extensive whisky selection takes some beating.


George IV Bar
3.

Alternative Music Bars

Visit for bars that have lots of stings to their bow! Pop along today and experience everything from Motown to rock.

If you’re in the mood for musical entertainment and open to any genre, you won’t struggle to find a bar in the city playing a variety of crowd-pleasing music.

Open 6 nights a week, Bannermans features everything from traditional folk through to hard metal, while George IV Bar is the place to be for live music ranging from folk and ceilidh to Motown and indie. Music is a big deal at Footlights Bar & Grill with open mic nights every second Thursday. If blues music is your thing, be sure to hot foot it to The Scotman’s Lounge every Monday night.

Not much has changed in The Royal Mile Tavern  over the years, and it’s all the better for it – decked out in retro wood panelling and vintage mirrors it’s a cosy place to hear a selection of live music featuring local musicians. If the sounds and look of the 50s are more your thing, then don’t miss The Rat Pack Piano Bar  where you can experience live piano and jazz every night. Or head to Leith’s shore and you’ll find The Shore Bar & Restaurant, an 18th century inn complete with open fires and more than just a hint of jazz in the air.

Part of Edinburgh’s College of Art, The Wee Red Bar is so much more than a student bar. Yes, the drinks are ridiculously cheap, but the venue’s unique sound system attracts an in the know crowd keen to see up-and-coming bands.


The Banshee Labyrinth
4.

Late Night Bars

Visit for late night musical entertainment that’ll see you through until sunrise.

Hosting live music, open nights and dance events, Banshee Labyrinth is a maze of three unique bars, underground dancefloor and cinema – and it’s also regarded as Edinburgh’s most haunted pub! For something less scary, if you fancy testing your vocal talents on Edinburgh’s patrons, Monday is Open Mic Night at Whistle Binkies, the longest running open mic night in the city.

For soaring acoustics, head to Stramash – housed in a converted church this massive bar has a huge stage with dance floor and a cosy bar and seating area downstairs. Open until 3am daily, it showcases some of the best up and coming bands from Scotland and beyond. Enjoy the soothing sounds of late-night jazz at Scotland’s leading independent jazz venue, The Jazz Bar – a multi award-winning speakeasy, it’s bursting with energy and hosts multiple acts throughout the week. 

Enjoy a feast for your ears and eyes at Superico Bar and Lounge – this 19th century Georgian building and former banking hall is a ‘fiesta for the eyes’, having been transformed into a Chilean-inspired, sun-drenched party palace complete with state-of-the-art sound system and DJ sessions.


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