Edinburgh in August

Edinburgh is a beautiful place to visit at any time of year, but in August it is transformed into a city of festivals, where millions of people from around the world descend on it to perform and watch theatre, comedy, dance, music, circus and some performances that can be difficult to categorise.

British Theatre Guide has been reviewing from Edinburgh since 2001, but in fact we have reviews from our parent site going back to 1997. We cover at least three different festivals every year, with BTG reviewers travelling to Scotland from all over the UK and beyond to join those who live north of the border.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the big one, with thousands of different shows, many around an hour in length, in theatres, pubs, lecture rooms and a great many other unconventional theatre spaces all over the city. It is an open access festival, so anyone can perform in it if they can find a venue and raise the money to put it on.

Edinburgh International Festival has a much smaller, curated programme of performances by world-leading artists in theatre, dance, opera and music at various venues, some of which are much longer than an average Fringe show.

At Edinburgh International Book Festival, novelists, academics, journalists and other writers give one-off talks, usually an hour in length, about their work, mostly at the same location where there are also places to buy food, drink and—of course—books. There is a separate children’s programme, as well as a few scratch theatre performances based on novels.

Visiting the Edinburgh Festivals can be exciting, but can also be rather daunting, especially for newcomers. Each year, I update a document of information and advice for BTG reviewers, but some of this could be useful for general visitors to Edinburgh in August, and so an edited version of this advice follows.