An Insider’s Guide to Edinburgh’s Festivals

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An Insider’s Guide to Edinburgh’s Festivals

Edinburgh’s population doubles every August as a million people fill the Scottish capital for a summer of festivals that bring visual arts, classical music, marching bands and comedy to the city.  

In 2022, Edinburgh celebrates its 75th anniversary as a festival city on the global stage, with four umbrella events across the capital in July and August. 

Centrally positioned, The Balmoral is within walking distance of the festivities. With hundreds of shows to choose from and restaurants booked up in advance, our Concierge can help with recommendations and reservation

Scotland’s biggest arts festival

With more than 80 events across the city, Edinburgh International Festival, from Friday 5th to Sunday 28th August, runs alongside the Fringe Festival – a colossus of 2,000 shows. Add the pageantry of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and Edinburgh International Book Festival from Saturday 13th to Monday 29th August, and collectively you’ve got Scotland’s biggest arts festival. Intrigued? Then discover more about what to expect from this year’s programme.

Highlights of the 2022 Edition

Drumming, projections and a choir open the festival on Friday 5th August at BT Murrayfield Stadium, as Australia’s Gravity & Other Myths and the First Nations dance company Djuki Mala perform the circus show Macro.

Programme director Roy Luxford says, “With over 2,400 artists representing 54 nationalities, the 2022 Edinburgh International Festival is ideally suited to an international audience.”

On Sunday 7th August, jazz legend Herbie Hancock, who has 14 Grammy Awards under his belt, makes his festival debut at Edinburgh Playhouse. Prefer classical music? Then don’t miss BBC Singers’ chamber choir and the violinist Laura Samuelson on Tuesday 9th August in the Queen’s Hall. Meanwhile, Hanya Yanagihara’s emotional rollercoaster of a novel, A Little Life, is brought to the stage from Saturday 20th to Monday 22nd August at the Festival Theatre. 

While the festival was founded on the ideal of art transcending political discourse, much of the 2022 edition addresses pressing contemporary issues. Attend talks on immigration and climate change and listen to refugee voices in Detention Dialogues on Sunday 21st August at The Studio.

Choreographer Akram Khan returns to Edinburgh with Jungle Book Reimagined from Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th August at Festival Theatre. Part dance, part animation and with an original score, Khan gives Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale a modern twist as the action follows a climate refugee in a city overrun with wild animals.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

When eight theatrical troupes turned up uninvited to the first international festival, Festival Fringe was born. ‘The Fringe’ veers from experimental theatre and cutting-edge comedy to unconventional dance, cabaret and interactive children’s entertainment.

Unlike Edinburgh International Festival, Festival Fringe prides itself on not having an artistic director, preferring the performers’ vision to shape the programme instead. 

In 2022, highlights include Ian McKellen treading the boards in Hamlet, physical theatre from Taiwan, Cuban street dance and circus from La Clique as well as Frankie Boyle’s controversial social observations, and comedy from Reginald D Hunter.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of the season’s hottest tickets. A dramatic showcase of marching bands, international performers and dancers, it’s set against Edinburgh Castle from Friday 5th to Saturday 27th August.

The British Army leads this year’s 800 performers, followed by fireworks every Monday to Saturday which you can see from The Balmoral’s Castle View Suite.

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Edinburgh International Book Festival is attended by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, with Kazuo Ishiguro and Kate Mosse participating in 2021. Speakers cover topics from poetry to the criminal justice system. Uncover the latest edition at Edinburgh College of Art from Saturday 13th to Monday 29th August.

Our Concierge at The Balmoral can recommend shows and help secure tickets.

Contact us by emailing or calling +44 131 556 2414.

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