The city of Edinburgh is a joy to visit at any time of year, with its magical castle overlooking the city centre, the historic Royal Mile, bustling shops of Princes Street, and year-round opportunities to explore a variety of arts and cultural offerings.
Planning a trip in August means the added excitement of festival season, when you’ll find not just the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival, and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
It’s the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that lays claim to being the largest arts festival in the world and that takes over the Old Town and beyond. It offers a vast number of street entertainers as well as ticketed performances and by-donation shows called the Free Fringe.
Just wandering down the Royal Mile provides free entertainment for the whole family, with song, dance, poetry, magic and comedy.
Big names and undiscovered gems alike are available to book, and with thousands of acts performing on hundreds of stages across the city, there really is something for everyone. Be aware that some of them are age-restricted, having adult themes and language.
What to prioritise
It can be daunting trying to narrow down your choice of which shows to see, but the Fringe programme is available online beginning in June, or there is also an app which allows you to set up your own Fringe planning calendar. You can even visit the Fringe Inspiration Machine to be provided with a selection of choices. For more inspiration, check out Lonely Planet’s guide for first-timers.
Because August accommodations fill up quickly, plan early for a visit during festival season. But because the Edinburgh Fringe Festival runs over three weeks, it’s an experience easily achieved with some advance planning, which is more than worth the effort. And because the city has so much to offer, you can choose to immerse yourself in the festival spirit for your whole trip, or break up the festivities with quieter excursions outside the city centre.