An Edinburgh August: it’s a great month to experience the city, where there will be lots going on to keep everyone in the family entertained. We’ve taken a look at some ideas which our readers have shared with us and have added some of our own to help you plan your next trip.
How many festivals are there in Edinburgh each August?
There will be at least 5 main festivals going on in Edinburgh in August, and there will be many other specialist ones to discover. We’ve included the links to their websites here so that you have a handy guide for planning your trip.
During the remainder of the year, you’ll find many other festivals and events taking place in the city. The major ones can be found on the Edinburgh Festivals site.
Where should we take teenagers on holiday in August?
August is a popular time for families with teenagers to visit Edinburgh as there is so much entertainment for everyone. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe celebrates comedy. There are many awards on offer for comedy shows. A recent search brought up no fewer than 1100 results for “Comedy Shows at Edinburgh Fringe”. One of our groups with teenagers had planned several shows before they arrived, and were open to add more once reviews were available. The other group had planned 4 shows for their 4-day stay, but were also going to add more when they saw what was available. The 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe saw 53,232 performances of 3,398 shows at 300 venues. Phew!
If you are planning on attending this years festivals then you are advised to book your accommodation early. Accommodation is at a premium so you need to decide whether you want to base yourself within walking distance to the main venues such as the Pleasance, George Square, St Andrew Square and so on. Alternatively you may find cheaper accommodation outwith the city centre.
Here are examples of what some of our readers did at the Festival
Week 1 – family of 4 with 2 teenagers from north of England
Highlights: this family are big comedy fans, so saw lots of shows such as Susan Calman, Marcus Brigstocke, James Acaster, Nina Conti (to name only a few they saw). They enjoyed meals at Zizzi’s and Pancho Villa’s. A day at Edinburgh Zoo by bus from Princes Street. Took advantage of the Half Price Ticket Hut (at the Mound Precinct) to see more shows. There were free tickets for them for the Opening event of the Edinburgh International Festival: Deep Time, which they managed to cram in at the end of a busy day going to the Comedy Festival Opening Gala too.
Week 2 – couple from Maine, USA
Highlights: this couple enjoyed Edinburgh, but also used it as a base for touring around Scotland as they love to visit castle ruins. They loved seeing the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo on one of the evenings of their stay.
They recommended these places to eat:
- Witchery by the Castle
- upstairs at Deacon Brodies’ Tavern in the Royal Mile
- No 1 High Street (pub in the Royal Mile)
They toured to:
- Craigmillar Castle in Edinburgh
- Dunottar Castle near Stonehaven
- Elcho Castle near Perth
- Tantallon Castle in East Lothian
Week 3 – 3 friends from Spain (3 days) – enjoyed themselves so much they want to come back again this year. Then a family of 4 with 2 teenagers from Leicester, UK
The family had planned one show for each day, then were heading to the half-price hut and reading reviews to find out what else they wanted to see. They had chosen to stay in self catering in the Royal Mile because it was near to one of the principal venues for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Pleasance. During the rest of the year this is part of Edinburgh University, but has a good range of shows for all ages throughout the day, as well as courtyard bars and cafes where you can simply sit and soak up the atmosphere.
August Bank Holiday weekend – 3 friends from Australia who had come to Edinburgh at the beginning and end of a 10-day tour of Scotland
Highlights: these friends had arrived in August and attended the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and visited some Harry Potter sights before embarking on a 10-day tour with Haggis Adventures. They then booked 4 nights in self catering at the end of their tour. They arrived off the bus full of stories of the Jacobite Express (a.k.a the Hogwart’s Express), Tomb of the Eagles and many more places visited on their Haggis Adventures 10 day compass buster tour!
They crammed a huge amount into their 4-day stay, including:
- exploring the Royal Mile
- enjoyed live outdoor entertainment on the Royal Mile
- Underground Vaults tour – “great and spooky”
- went to several Fringe shows at the Underbelly and George Square gardens
- visited Edinburgh Castle and got great views from the top of National Museum of Scotland roof terrace
- visited Greyfriars Churchyard and heard about the tales of Greyfriars Bobby
- experienced centuries of history at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, using the free audio tour and enjoying the gardens surrounding the Royal residence
- Saw the closing event of the Edinburgh International Festival – a Fireworks Spectacular which they were able to see from a vantage point at the Edinburgh Mercure hotel on Princes Street as we’d tipped them off that we knew that there were still tickets available for dinner there that night (we saw a chalk sign on a blackboard when out shopping!)
10 Top Tips to Enjoy Edinburgh in August
Don’t schedule absolutely everything before you arrive as you need some space to take up exciting opportunities you may find as you walk around. The Edinburgh Art Festival map is a great way to discover both art and Edinburgh views
- Wear layers. Edinburgh in August can vary in temperature and amount of rainfall. Four seasons in one day not unusual! Evenings can be chilly so remember that extra wooly. If you’re going to the Tattoo, read this!
- Look after your feet. You will be walking everywhere as it’s the quickest way to get around in August. Cobbled streets are a feature of much of the Old Town. Flat, comfortable shoes are a must. A good pair of trainers/sneakers at the very least.
- There are fireworks each night as part of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo performance. In 2019 the BBC’s Fringe HQ was in the grounds of George Heriot’s School. We found this an ideal location to catch sight of the fireworks whilst enjoying a drink at the bar. On Saturdays there are two performances with the later performance ending at midnight and there is a longer firework display as part of this performance.
- Restaurants are very busy during August. Please give them a chance to help you by booking in advance and letting them know if you are in a hurry to see a show and need to be served quickly.
- George Square has become a centre for Street Food during August, and can be an alternative to a sit-down dinner if you simply need refreshments between shows.
- The Fringe venues can be very busy, but locals will be able to tell you some ideas of places to escape the frantic feeling around there if you simply need somewhere more peaceful – try visiting Portobello Beach (on the 26 bus) for a walk on the Prom or heading to Stockbridge or Morningside for some local shopping and pretty boutiques.
- During early August the Fringe by the Sea in North Berwick is easily accessible, and great fun to visit using the train from Waverley to North Berwick
- If you’re on the BBC Audience mailing list you’ll be able to apply for free tickets for one or two of the many shows which they broadcast during the Fringe, and their venue is a great place to hang out to hear up and coming acts perform.
- A boat trip from South Queensferry on the Maid of the Forth or the Forth Belle to Inchcolm Island is fun if the weather is warm and you’ve a free day. You can get there easily by joining the Edinburgh Tour Bus at Waverley Bridge