The capital of Scotland, Edinburgh, is perhaps the most famous city in the country. However, it’s not for its prominent role as a capital city but rather for its rich history. There are numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites spread throughout the old, medieval town. One of the most notable is Edinburgh Castle. Yes, the city of Edinburgh is a real-life fairytale with captivating backdrops and stone streets. A meeting point of past and present in the United Kingdom.
This walkable city attracts most people when it’s dry and sunny, but it can be inspiring in the darker, colder months. It is a year-round destination, it all depends on one’s personality. So, discover the best time of year to visit Edinburgh based on what it is you’re looking for.
June through August
June through August is the high season, or peak season, in Edinburgh. Though it is summer, the warmest time of year, tourism peaks. To avoid the high prices of hotels and airfare, book early so that you can experience all there is to offer. The city buzzes full of festivals and activities and is perfect for sightseeing (it’s good to arrive early or show up late to avoid the lines).
For those who enjoy science, the end of June is the Edinburgh International Science Festival. During this month there is also the widely popular Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Though the hottest month, July brings the Jazz and Blues Festival.
But perhaps the busiest month of the year, undoubtedly, is August. August is a great time to visit for art and music. The month hosts the most popular festival called the Festival Fringe which brings together theater, dance, cabaret, art, and live music. It’s a true melting pot of the arts, across the various mediums. Also in August is the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, another highlight festival that displays military performances.
September to October
The months of September and October are considered shoulder seasons, where the prices and tourism dip but there are still endless amounts of things to do. The shoulder season is great for nature hikes and experiencing the city with fewer crowds. Although the fall is wet, the colorful leaves are an unbeatable sight.
Popular September events include the Ocean Film Festival. But it is the month of October that truly stands out. For those who enjoy cosplay, October brings Comic-Con to Scotland. But it’s the annual Scottish International Storytelling Festival, a popular event among locals and tourists alike, which takes place close to Halloween. Halloween in Edinburgh is similar to that in the United States, with plenty of costume parties and haunted sights to gather. These spooktacular events seem even more compelling amid a medieval backdrop, perfect for tales of knights and bloody battles, along with the traditions of the original Halloween with the Samhain Festival.
November to March
November to March in Edinburgh is when the crowds seemingly disperse due to the frigid temperatures and closures of certain attractions. This is also known as the low season. Though it is winter, with shorter, less sunny days, it’s the best time to save money and avoid the crowds. Some of the more tourist spots will be closed but the open ones will feel as though you have the area to yourself. The winter is also a good reason to go pub crawling. The colder it gets the better the whiskey in any of the local pubs.
November is the time of a very popular Scottish event called Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night. The more rowdy celebration is held annually on November 5 with bonfires and fireworks. It’s to celebrate a failed gunpowder plot on the House of Parliament back in 1605. Any history buff, of age, is sure to enjoy this.
December hosts lots of Christmas markets and winter markets throughout the city. Castle Street Christmas Market with views of Edinburgh Castle. The day after Christmas, December 26th is known as Boxing Day with the best shopping deals. It’s comparable to Black Friday in the Americas.
Then, celebrate the New Year with the Hogmanay (the Scottish word for the last day of the old year). There’s no better way to start an adventure than with a new tradition.
After the New Year through the end of February tends to be the cheapest time, and the least busy. But all of the snow mixed with the holiday lights makes even the darkest days seem magical. Plus, you can celebrate the Scottish tradition of Burns Night on January 25th, celebrating the life of a poet Scot, which comes with lots of reading and drinking.
April to May
To conclude the year, April to May is another period known as shoulder season but it has tons of color throughout the parks and gardens.
April hosts the Beltane Fire Festival that highlights the changing of the season and showcases Celtic Traditions. It also welcomes the smaller celebration of Edinburgh Comic-Con.
May has the longest days of the year and is nearly rain-free, with temperatures being very comfortable. The flowers are in full bloom and the air is crisp. It also attracts those eager to watch or run in the Edinburgh Marathon.
With all there is to see and do, it’s good to hit the ground running (or walking) and immediately find luggage storage in Edinburgh to make the most of your trip. Whether it be shoulder, low, or peak season Edinburgh is a beautiful city waiting to be explored.