King of the castles: why August is the best time to visit Edinburgh

by | 14 Apr 2023

With fantastic weather and a festive buzz, August is the best time to visit Edinburgh if you want to see the iconic Scottish capital in style. The city becomes electric with a mix of creative energy and radiant sunlight, bringing a youthful color to its historic Georgian, Neo-classical and medieval architecture. As you wander along the paved cobblestone streets, exploring all the sights and insights of this ancient city, you’ll feel the buzz in the air – a sign that you’ve picked the best time to visit Edinburgh.

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In August, Edinburgh is transformed from a city of stoic architecture and serious history into a cauldron of culture, with festivals of all kinds bubbling up.


Welcome to the largest arts festival in the world. Performers, artists and creatives from all countries and creeds come to showcase their talents in a manic month-long festival where there’s something to find in every corner and cranny.

Indeed, the whole city becomes a stage, with every possible space used to house some sort of performance. You could be watching a play in a traditional theater or concert hall, and then comedy in the backroom of a bar. There’s sketch shows in university lecture halls, poetry readings in cafe staff rooms, and even shows in people’s living rooms or in the back of taxis.

You get to see particularly unique shows at the Fringe because it’s an open-access festival. This means that anyone can participate, regardless of their experience or background. This ties in with its history when in 1947, eight theater groups turned up uninvited to the Edinburgh International Festival. This festival celebrated high culture and performing arts, yet these eight groups performed their own DIY shows on the “fringes” of the main festival, and thus the Fringe was born.

This ethos has become the soul of the festival, making for a wonderfully diverse and eclectic mix of performances. You have everything, ranging from slick shows produced by professional theater companies to the wacky, weird, and wonderful creations of those on the ‘fringe’.

But the Fringe isn’t just about the performances – it’s also about the atmosphere. The city turns into something new during the festival, with performers, buskers, food vendors, and pop-up bars filling the streets. There’s a palpable energy and excitement in the air, and you can’t help but get swept up in the festive spirit, especially along the city’s famous Royal Mile. The Fringe could be reason alone why August is the best time to visit Edinburgh. As it happens, there are plenty more reasons to come.

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Another major event that takes place in Edinburgh in August: one of the largest and most prestigious book festivals in the world. Held in the Book Festival Village, this event brings together writers, poets, and thinkers from around the world to discuss their work, share ideas, and engage in conversation with audiences.

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As well as live performances and book festivals, you’ll be able to explore a range of galleries, museums, and public spaces that’ll showcase contemporary art from around the world. From installations and sculptures to paintings and drawings, the art festival offers a fascinating insight into the current state of the art scene

With a diverse program of exhibitions, installations, and events, you’ll be able to see the work of both established and emerging artists from Scotland and around the world.

One of the highlights of the Edinburgh Art Festival is its focus on public art, with a number of large-scale installations and sculptures on display throughout the city’s streets and public spaces. This creates a unique and engaging environment for you to explore and interact with the artwork, adding to the electric vibe that takes over the city streets.


To top off Edinburgh’s festival craze, you’ll also find a fantastic food festival to whet your appetite. Here, you’ll be able to taste a range of award-winning local and international cuisine, as well as cooking demonstrations, tastings, and workshops. For example, you could attend a chef demo, children’s cooking classes, and interesting events like coffee + mushroom growing workshops.

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While festivals rage on in the city, watching above is old, wise Edinburgh Castle. Built on Castle Rock, this fortress sits on a vantage point that is said to have been inhabited since the Iron Age. It’s here, on the Castle’s esplanade, that the world-famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place. This spectacle of dance, music and military pageantry has been entertaining audiences since its inception in 1950.

The idea behind The Tattoo was to showcase the rich and varied traditions of the Scottish military, as well as the cultural heritage of Scotland as a whole. Expect military marching bands, drum bands, dancing and fireworks, with a tribute to the Armed Forces through a moving rendition of the “Last Post”.

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But The Tattoo is more than just a showcase of military music and dance, it’s a celebration of Scottish culture and heritage. In the massed pipes and drums, hundreds of pipers and drummers come together to perform traditional Scottish tunes. You’ll see elements of Scottish folklore, including a recital of the famous “Address to a Haggis” and a display of the .

The spectacle is broadcast to millions of viewers around the globe, but there’s nothing quite like experiencing it in person with the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. The pipes and the drums ring out and echo across the city, making it clear that August is undoubtedly the best time to visit Edinburgh.

You may also like: Ten facts you never knew about the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo


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While Edinburgh is known for its unpredictable weather, the August days are long and mild, with an average temperature of around 64°F (18°C). There’s truly no better time of year to explore the beauty of Scottish nature, both inside the city walls like in the Royal Botanic Garden, and outside such as nearby Arthur’s seat. Here, you can take a hike up and enjoy a picnic with breathtaking views of the city. Or, try a day trip out to Scotland’s famous Highlands for rugged landscapes and beautiful wilderness.

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While a wonderful city to visit all year round, August brings world-class events, pleasant weather, and a vibrant atmosphere, making it the best time to visit Edinburgh. If you’re planning a trip to the Scottish capital, the sheer volume of information available online can be overwhelming. Sifting through endless travel blogs and review sites in search of the best accommodation, transportation and activities can be time consuming. That’s why guided tours are a fantastic option for travelers seeking a more seamless and enjoyable travel experience.


Taking a tour with Insight Vacations, you can leverage the knowledge and expertise of travel professionals who have already done the legwork. They’ve built fantastic itineraries that will show you all the gorgeous sights and fascinating insights of the Scottish capital. You’ll be able to enjoy a more sophisticated travel experience with access to insider knowledge, unique experiences, and off-the-beaten-path destinations that might otherwise be overlooked. Plus, you don’t have to do any more researching or planning – it’s already taken care of. If you’re still considering when to visit Edinburgh, opt for a stylish August visit with one of Insight’s carefully crafted Scotland tours.

Browse Scotland guided tours

I'm Jay – born in Italy, raised in South London. Having French sisters and Hungarian ancestors, I've always been fascinated with the world and its cultures, and I carry this curiosity into my writing for Insightful. My favourite destinations I've traveled to so far have been Italy, Peru, France and Brazil.