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Edinburgh events calendar

Plan your calendar with the Time Out guide to Edinburgh's annual events

Chris Watt

Edinburgh isn't nicknamed the Festival City for nothing - aside from the world famous Hogmanay celebrations every winter, and both the International Festival and the Festival Fringe at the end of summer, the city boasts a wealth of recurring festivals and events for every stripe of cultural endeavour. From events at some of Edinburgh's best attractions to big theatre shows, there's loads to get excited about. We've rounded up the significant ones below - best get these dates in your diary and on your calendar ASAP.

Spring 2016

Wee Dub Festival

A reggae and roots weekender taking over some of Edinburgh's finest club and gig joints. The line-up's still under wraps, but the 2014 edition featured the likes of Channel One Soundsystem, The Drop, Nucleus Roots and Riddim Tuffa Sound, plus Edinburgh's own Electrikal Soundsystem and Glasgow's Mungo's Hi-Fi.
Date 6-9 Mar
Various Old Town venues
weedubfestival.co.uk

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Puppet Animation Festival

The UK's largest performing arts event for children, the Puppet Animation Festival brings a programme of over 150 events to venues across Scotland, including performances, animation screenings and workshops.
Date 28 Mar-18 Apr
Various venues across Scotland
puppetanimationfestival.org

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Edinburgh International Science Festival

One of Europe's largest festivals of science and technology, the EISF runs over two weeks every spring, delving into academic disciplines such as biology, chemistry and physics alongside more practical scientific applications like food, music and art. With workshops, demonstrations, performances, markets, parties and more, both children and adults are bound to find something that fits.
Date 4-19 Apr
Various Edinburgh venues
sciencefestival.co.uk

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Dead By Dawn

An independent alternative to the Film4-backed horror fests taking place elsewhere, Dead By Dawn brings together international premieres, beloved classics and grisly, inventive shorts for a packed weekend of shrieking, scare-filled fun. There are also special guests and a firm community emphasis via Punk Pass the Parcel and the now legendary Shit Film Amnesty.
Date 23-26 Apr
Filmhouse Cinema
deadbydawn.co.uk

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Beltane Fire Festival

A mix of Celtic tradition, pyrotechnics and lashings of body paint, the Beltane Fire Festival is a recreation of the pagan ceremony banishing winter in favour of the warmer, summer months. The Edinburgh-based Beltane Fire Society stage the massive production every year, with hundreds of volunteers and a spectacular party atmosphere that's not to be missed.
Date 30 Apr
Calton Hill
beltanefiresociety.wordpress.com

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Summer 2016

Imaginate

A week-long festival of performing arts for children and young people. Performances from local and international children's theatre companies from 2014 included children's book adaptation 'Not Now Bernard' and 'The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer'.
Date 11-17 May
Various Edinburgh venues
imaginate.org.uk

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Hidden Door

Repurposing Edinburgh's unused derelict spaces, this multi-platform festival has a primary focus on visual art but also incorporates poetry, live music, DJ sets, audio-visual installations and performance. An intriguing and exciting method of venturing into unknown areas wthin the capital.
Date 22-30 May
The Old Street Lighting Depot, King's Stables Road
hiddendoorblog.org

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LeithLate

The shops and bars on and around Leith Walk double up as art, film and music venues in this free, locally-minded weekend festival. While the fest itself is the main draw, the fruits of its labours can be seen year-round thanks to endeavours like The Shutter Project, which aims to beautify the Walk's shop shutters with guerrilla street art.
Date June tbc
Various Leith venues
leithlate.co.uk

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Edinburgh International Film Festival

The world's longest continually-running film festival has experienced a slight revival in the past few years, following a period of uncertainty: creative director Chris Fujiwara refocused the festival on under-appreciated international filmmakers while making sure to litter the programme with a number of crowdpleasers (Matthew McConaughey in 'Killer Joe'; the festival's ongoing relationship with Disney-Pixar). With Fujiwara stepping down in September 2014 though, it'll be interesting to see where the festival goes next.
Date 17-28 Jun
Various Edinburgh cinemas
edfilmfest.org.uk

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Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

Officially regarded as the start of the Edinburgh Festivals (ie that hectic period that's predominantly in August but often sprawls over into July and September), the Jazz & Blues Fest makes sure to cram in as many bands and musicians as possible before the city becomes overburdened with comedians and student theatre groups. Among a starry array of international Jazz and blues performers, festival highlights include the Edinburgh Festival Carnival in Princes Street Gardens and Grassmarket Mardi Gras, both on the opening weekend.
Date 17-26 Jul
Various Edinburgh venues
edinburghjazzfestival.com

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Edinburgh Art Festival

Filling a gap between the remits of the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the EAF was founded in 2004 to provide a platform for visual artists from Scotland and abroad. Given that consumption of visual art is typically a somewhat sedate affair, a visit to an EAF exhibition during August can offer pleasant respite from the overwhelming crush of punters and performers at the Fringe, though they've been known to host more interactive exhibits in the past as well.
Date 30 Jul-30 Aug
Various Edinburgh galleries
edinburghartfestival.com

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The Fringe was established in 1947 as a less stuffy alternative to the 'elitist' Edinburgh International Festival, but has since overtaken its older sibling to become the world's largest arts festival. Around 3,000 shows are expected in the official 2015 programme, spanning theatre, comedy, music, cabaret, art, kids' shows and more, with many unofficial events also popping up around the city.
Date 7-31 Aug
Various Edinburgh venues
edfringe.com

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The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Often mistakenly lumped in with either the Fringe or the International Festival, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a standalone event that occupies a purpose-built stadium in front of Edinburgh Castle every August. For the uninitiated, the concept can sound a bit bizarre - a line-up of international military marching bands strutting their stuff - but the live experience is a spine-tingling mix of fireworks, percussion and choreography. Switzerland's Top Secret Drum Corps are among the confirmed guests for the Tattoo's 2015 run.
Date 7-29 Aug
Edinburgh Castle Esplanade
edintattoo.co.uk

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Edinburgh International Festival

The instigator of what's now referred to as the Edinburgh Festivals, the EIF is an unashamedly high-brow celebration of culture, with classical music, opera, contemporary dance performances and big budget foreign langage theatre productions making up the main body of the programme. The theme of the festival usually corresponds to a cultural event or anniversary, with 2014's 'Culture and Conflict' relating to the centenary of the start of WWI.
Date 7-31 Aug
Various Edinburgh venues
eif.co.uk

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Edinburgh International Book Festival

Cramming over 700 events into just over two weeks, the Edinburgh International Book Festival boasts an incredible roll call of previous guests, including Salman Rushdie, Hilary Mantel, Seamus Heaney, JK Rowling and George RR Martin. Most of the events stick to the standard reading-and-interview format (usually followed by a signing), though live music and other performances have also become more popular in recent years, particularly as part of the Festival's late night Unbound strand.
Date 15-31 Aug
Charlotte Square
edbookfest.co.uk

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