Last Updated on June 22, 2020 by Amanda Stancati
Edinburgh Music Scene
Edinburgh is the second largest financial center in the UK and its healthy music scene is as vibrant and varied as the city itself. It ranks among the U.K.’s top 10 ‘most musical’ cities. There’s a venue to suit any mood, from wee sweatboxes to charming old concert halls; all in the shadow of the iconic Edinburgh Castle (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Each August over 200,000 people gather at the Castle (100 million watch on TV) to take in The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Performers, from all over the world, come together to celebrate the history, heritage and colour of Scotland. The 2017 Tattoo runs from August 4 – 26th daily, except Sundays. Tickets go fast.
Live Music Venues
The Electric Circus is the place for contemporary music; it’s part club, part gig venue and part karaoke bar (with 7 little rooms you can book for a private karaoke party). This venue is dark, decorated with street art (read, spray paint graffiti) and neon. The club attracts an eclectic crowd of students, indie kids and folkies. Located at 36- 35 Market Street, seconds from the Waverley train station.
Bannermans in the heart of Edinburgh, is perfect for the underground rock fraternity, as it’s beneath South Bridge in the catacombs of the Old Town and they’ve preserved the original stonewall interior. With some of the best sound engineers in town, they attract world famous acts, rising stars and some of the best up-and-coming acts in the country. They have one of the most regular programmes of live music in the city. Their concert room, the band cavern, has a capacity of 175 and more than 100 malt whiskeys – for a little chill-time you can slip into a unique cave-like bar (the Jager Lounge) and relax in comfy leather seats. Located at 212 Cowgate, Edinburgh
The Caves was at one time a stable for the French cavalry, as well as a storage cave for Whisky (called ‘Whisky Row’). This 18th century vaulted storage complex is now a venue for live music and parties. This unique venue makes up the sub-structure of the old South Bridge, which had been lost for years, but now shines as a playground for clubbers. They feature international and local acts, some weird and wonderful, like techno and indie rock and folk bands. Located at 8 – 10 Niddry St., South Edinburgh EH1 1NS
The Voodoo Rooms is an award winning venue/cocktail bar restaurant, with a wide range of entertainment ranging from live music to concerts and cabaret. They have several rooms with different themes, all very opulent and ornate, with a range of live music, djs, cabaret & other entertainment. The place is off the beaten path, but has amazing architecture and a great buzz. Definitely worth a stop, but Friday nights can be overly busy, so book a table. Located at 19a W Register St., Edinburgh EH2 2AA
When You Go, Don’t Miss
Edinburgh Castle‘s strategic location atop Castle Rock has made it an ideal military stronghold and an intricate part of Scotland’s defense system throughout history. The Castle was home to King Malcom Canmore and Queen Margaret in the 11th century, and an army base up to the 1920’s. It’s worth the climb up to this magnificent fortress. While there you can view the ‘crown jewels’, the ‘stone of destiny’, museums and even where the royal pets are laid to rest.
Royal Mile runs through the heart of Old Town, from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This is probably Edinburgh’s oldest street; it’s certainly the busiest. There are so many things to see, on either side street, far too many to mention, but they include ‘The Hub’ the Festival Centre and ticket office, the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre and the Museum of Childhood (historical toys, books, dolls and more).
Holyrood Park, about a mile to the east of the Edinburgh Castle, is a 263 hectare windswept bit of wilderness in the middle of the city. The highest point in the park is ‘Arthur’s Seat’, the actual remains of a volcano. Here you will discover Iron Age forts, Bronze Age agricultural terraces and moorland. Parking is available and we suggest you wear sturdy footwear as the terrain can be quite rugged.
Visit the Record Shak Record Shop for pschycadelic, and blues to pop, funk rock and jazz, 69 Clerk St., Edinburgh
Unknown Pleasures offers rare and collectible second-hand vinyl, lots of classic indie rock and genres from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. 110 Canongate, Edinburgh
Browse tours that suit your interest:
Where to Stay
The Scotsman Hotel is a 5 star Boutique Hotel on the city’s North Bridge between the New Town and the historic Old Town. Built in 1905, it was once the home of the Scotsman Newspaper. This luxurious hotel is within walking distance of Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street, Carlton Hill and a 5 minute walk to train station. They have a luxury spa and health club, private cinema.
Located at 20 NorthBridge, Edinburgh EH1 1TR
The Grassmarket Hotel is close to The Caves and other venues as well as the ‘grass market’ itself. It’s such a fun place to walk around with lots of cafes, shops, and pubs. This hotel has a 4-star rating and is in the heart of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town. Located at 94-96 Grassmarket, Edinburgh, U.K.
Walking: The best way to get around Edinburgh is on foot. It’s a very compact city and most sites can be reached within 20 – 30 minutes from the city centre.
Cycling: There are great bike paths – part of the National Cycle Network, and 75km of off-street paths for cycling and walking. (Get path map at City of Edinburgh Council webpage).
Bus: There’s an extensive bus service, you can purchase tickets as you board, but require exact change. For information visit lothianbuses.com.
Tram: The tram runs from Edinburgh Airport to York Place, east of the city centre and to Haymarket Station in the West End, with stops along the way. Get tickets at Tram platform.
Rickshaw: This is a fun way to see the city, twice the price of a taxi, and can vary so agree on the fee in advance.
Rail: International (and UK) visitors are serviced by two major rail stations and Edinburgh Airport, the busiest airport in Scotland. For getting to and from the airport, you have a choice of trains, buses and taxis. (Edinburgh is connected to Glasgow via train, the trip is 1 hour.)