Every August Edinburgh swarms with comedians, singers, dancers, circus performers and of course theatre companies, all of whom are in town to present their wares at the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It should come as no surprise then that the city has a thriving theatre and arts scene throughout the rest of the year - a calendar packed with great things to do. Below, we've picked the best theatres to catch a glimpse of Edinburgh's theatrical side, so go forth and enjoy.
One of the oldest theatre buildings in the city, the Royal Lyceum has since 1965 been home to the Royal Lyceum Theatre Company, which produces a seasonal series of original and revived theatre productions for 48 weeks of every year, making it one of Scotland’s largest and most important producing companies. The range of work the company gets through is impressive, from restaged popular classics to work by new playwrights like Scotland’s DC Jackson and leftfield choices such as 'Dark Places', the debut theatrical script from Edinburgh crime author Ian Rankin.
As a doyen on Edinburgh’s cultural scene, the Traverse Theatre (known locally as the Trav) recently celebrated 50 years of bringing cutting-edge theatre and award-winning playwrights and performers to its stages. It’s continually at capacity during the Fringe, and throughout the rest of the year it flexes its creative muscles with similar force, presenting an array of specialist mini festivals and seasons.
Among Edinburgh’s best and biggest theatrical spaces, the Festival Theatre is unique in that it offers the best of multiple eras to its public. With the largest stage in Scotland, the Festival is an extremely versatile space, hosting touring musical productions, Edinburgh International Festival shows and low-key rock concerts. It’s also the Edinburgh home of Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet.
Owned by the Ambassador Theatre group, the Playhouse is the largest and one of the most iconic theatre spaces in Edinburgh, not to mention one of the largest non-sport theatres in the UK, with a capacity of just over 3,000. Although initially it built a reputation as a home for big-name rock concerts, in recent years it has been used more as a venue for large-scale touring musical theatre shows, which appear on the bill on an almost weekly basis.
As Edinburgh’s newest – and hippest – multi-arts venue, Summerhall has quickly evolved from its former life as the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies into a cutting edge performance space. Year round it puts on a programme of largely avant-garde, occasionally political exhibitions, talks, music, theatre, dance and film events – as well as functioning as a space for workshops and residencies.