Edinburgh, City of Festivals

Edinburgh is unparalleled as a festival city, with 12 major festivals each year encompassing creatives from 70 countries.

Our video tour with James McVeigh from Festivals Edinburgh gives you an insider’s look at some the famous festival landmarks and their stories. Our interactive map is a new way to encounter the city, and gives you an intimate portrait of this unique festival city. Follow the link above to join the action.

The Birth of the Festival City

Following the devastation of World War Two, the Edinburgh International Festival was founded in 1947. It was set up as a way to gather people of different backgrounds together to flourish creatively. By the end of the year, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh International Film Festival were also established, and the city had firmly marked its place on the new cultural landscape. Since then, the city’s collection of festivals has grown exponentially.

Edinburgh’s festivals now see a mind-boggling 4.2 million attendances, with over 25,000 participants performing at more than 3,000 events. Among the fresher faces on the festival map is the month-long Edinburgh Art Festival. It is the largest annual festival of Art in the UK, and brings in a quarter of a million visitors every year. Most of the festival is free to enjoy, and showcases the most important contemporary art alongside key works from art history.

It is not just the arts that are represented among Edinburgh’s main festivals; Edinburgh International Science Festival aims to encourage people of all ages to engage with the world around them.

Other Edinburgh festivals are equally world-renowned—the city’s legendary New Year celebration, Hogmanay, is the only festival to appear in the Discovery Channel’s ‘Top 25 World Travel Experiences’, and around 100 million people watch the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo on international television each year.

You can explore these festivals and others with our interactive map or watch the video below to hear from some of the UK's leading actors and directors reflect on the history of Edinburgh's remarkable festival landscape.