Your guide to the best festivals in and around Edinburgh this summer, for every music lover.
It’s our favourite time of year again - the semester is over, Edinburgh is having some heat waves (unfortunately thanks to climate change) and August’s festival season is fast approaching.*
Edinburgh will be home to a range of live music events this coming month, from smaller performances in theatres to huge festivals, and of course, the world-famous Fringe. After the mixed success in the return of festivals last summer - hello tsunami of positive Covid tests and last-minute line-up changes - there’s some hope that this year’s live music offerings can run more smoothly.
Here at the edi magazine, we want to recommend a selection of Edinburgh-based festivals and live music events, from a variety of genres and featuring quite the array of artists - from the internationally acclaimed to local Scottish talent. So, get ready. Boost your vaccines and your speakers; time to dance to live music again. Thank god.
For a festival at your front door- Edinburgh Summer Sessions
Dates: 7th-14th August
Located in the centre of Edinburgh, Princes Street Gardens will once again be taken over by the Summer Sessions, with headliners including Michael Kiwanuka, Simply Red, Tom Jones, Simple Minds and Travis. Definitely keep a look out for Scottish support acts such as Walt Disco and Brooke Combe too. Walt Disco are an alternative six-piece with an 80s pop-punk flare, while Brooke Combe is an R&B x soul singer who has toured with the likes of Miles Kane and The Courteeners. If you’re looking for a festival feel while still being within touching distance of an M&S (so you can avoid the expensive and often disappointing food trucks) then this is the summer music event for you.
If you love bands- Connect
Dates: 26th-28th August
The main stage at the Royal Highland Centre will be hosting some of the biggest DJs and artists including headliners Massive Attack, The Chemical Brothers and The National. Massive Attack’s timeless originality makes this festival lineup soar (and who doesn’t want to see Teardrop live?). There will also be three further stages filled with talent from a range of stars, from international to local acts. If her Glastonbury set is anything to go by, you must see Self Esteem; her infectious energy and upbeat pop songs will certainly draw a fun crowd. Make sure to catch IDLES on Friday afternoon if you thrive in a moshpit- there’s nothing like celebrating the end of social distancing than jumping around with sweaty strangers.
For a bit of everything- The Fringe
Dates: 5th-29th August
The iconic Edinburgh Fringe will be back to full strength for the first time since the pandemic, and the city will come alive with the chaos of the month-long festival. Hundreds of shows will be taking place, with lots of opportunities to discover a huge variety of live music. Acapella groups, tribute acts, opera and musical theatre can all be found via the Fringe website, or perhaps you could be a bit more adventurous and see who you stumble upon when you pop into a venue. From an Adele ‘Someone Like Me’ musical cabaret to Spice Girls tribute acts and a Shrek musical, the Fringe covers all bases and then some.
*Unfortunately, due to some poor scheduling, we didn’t put this piece up in time for the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival (15th- 24th July). We thought we would still include our thoughts, in case it piques your fancy in attending next year.
Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra took over the Festival Theatre, while Curtis Stigers was hosted in the Assembly Roxy. Both performances were scheduled for 7:30 pm, making these events the perfect way to spend an easy evening with the best in jazz and blues. There’s truly nothing more sophisticated than telling your friends you went to a jazz festival when they ask about your evening plans.
This is the festival for those who prefer a sequin clutch to a bumbag, and a fancy cocktail to a cup of warm, overpriced beer. Although nothing is stopping you from turning up in a bucket hat and sunnies, if you want to stick to a classic festival dress code.