Planning for Summer 2014
If you have always wanted to visit the Edinburgh Festivals but have never managed before, or if you have been every year and are already dreaming of next summer, now is the time to plan for your summer festivals break.
Although tickets can frequently be nabbed until minutes before many of the shows (depending on what you want to go and see), a little bit of forward planning never hurts. If you are thinking of your trip to Edinburgh, here are some elements to consider:
What festivals do you want to go and see?
There are 7 festivals that run throughout the Edinburgh summer season. Kicking off with the Edinburgh International Film Festival and finishing off with the Edinburgh Mela and the International Festival fireworks, when you choose to visit will provide you with a vastly different experience. Dates for the 2014 festival season are as follows:
Festivals in the 2014 summer season:
Edinburgh International Film Festival: 18 - 29 June
Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival: 18 - 27 July
Edinburgh Art Festival: 31 July - 31 August
Edinburgh Festival Fringe: 1 - 25 August
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo: 1 - 23 August
Edinburgh International Festival: 8 - 31 August
Edinburgh International Book Festival: 9 - 25 August
Edinburgh Mela: 29 - 31 August
Most of the festival tickets go on sale roughly 6-8 weeks before the start of the festivals, so sorting out accommodation and travel before booking tickets is best for most, with the exception of the Edinburgh International Festival and the Tattoo. Tickets for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo are now on sale, with tickets for the Edinburgh International Festival on sale from the 29th March. Tickets for the Festival Fringe will start to go on sale from mid-February, with the full programme due to launch in early June. The Edinburgh International Book Festival will go on sale in late June.
How do you want to get to Edinburgh?
Many airline partners have already released their flight selection for the forthcoming year. See specific flight providers for details, or why not use an aggregator site like www.skyscanner.net to find the best deals to Edinburgh. For those travelling from the UK, the train is the greenest way to go. Why not look at National Rail or East Coast for pricing.
Where do you want to stay?
Edinburgh has a great range of accommodation, from 1 to 5 stars, as well as hostels, bed and breakfast and guest house accommodation. Although there are good specials ahead of the main summer festival season, the rule of thumb in Edinburgh is that the later you book the more you are likely to pay more for traditional accommodation. Early booking will ensure you a range of accommodation. However, there are also non-traditional accommodation sites such as Air BnB and Spare room which offer homestays at affordable prices. Other good sites to look at are: Gumtree, visitscotland.com, Laterooms,and Hotelscombined.
Scotland is very compact with good transport routes, and Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, and Perth, the ancient capital of Scotland are only 45 minutes by train, and the accommodation is frequently cheaper than in Edinburgh city.
In general programmes for the summer festivals are released roughly 6-8 weeks before the festival period starts, so it is sometimes necessary to decide to come to the summer festivals before you are really sure what to see. The exception to this is the Edinburgh International Festival, who announce their programme in March, ahead of the festival in August. However, a leap of faith can frequently be rewarded, and with more than 2000 shows and exhibitions across the month of August, there is definitely something for everyone. Keep an eye on the individual festival pages to know when the programmes will be released. All festival programmes can also be seen here.
Do you want to see a bit of the rest of Scotland?
Edinburgh is an excellent base from which to explore the rest of Scotland, including the mysterious Highlands and Islands regions that have captured the imagination of so many around the world, with soaring mountains, deep lochs and majestic castles. Hiring cars or going on coach tours is easy and affordable. Why not visit sites like Rabbies Trailburners and Highland Explorer Tours for more details. visitscotland.com also has a great guide to what to see and do around all regions of Scotland.