Festival City: Edinburgh's Other Festivals
Famously known as the Festival City, there’s a lot more going on in Edinburgh than what you see in August. Here’s our breakdown of some of the capital’s best metropolitan festivals
Woodland Dance Project
This one’s technically a little bit out of the city, but there are shuttle buses all day to get you there from Edinburgh. For one day only, the idyllic country park at Vogrie will be transformed into a kaleidoscope of post-apocalyptic decor, steampunk costume, and a healthy dose of bass. It’s a sell-out event already, but with Chase and Status and Bushbaby on the bill, it’s well-worth keeping a look out for extra tickets. And if all else fails, you know to keep your eyes peeled for tickets to their 2020 Spring fling.
28 September, Vogrie Country Park; facebook.com/pg/outthereeventsuk
Scotland’s biggest electronic music festival first landed in Edinburgh two years ago, putting the capital firmly on the map when it comes to serving some of the best standard-bearers from techno, house, and disco. This year will see artists like Ben Klock, Alan Fitzpatrick, DJ Seinfeld and Skream grace the mixing desk, and a new warehouse space named The Hangar has also been added – big enough to fit over 10,000 ravers under its roof. That’s going to be a mammoth dancefloor worth seeing.
26 October, Royal Highland Centre; terminalv.co.uk
A grassroots arts dream, Hidden Door shines a light on Scotland’s rich creative scene by filling derelict spaces with a temporary flash of music, theatre, dance, spoken word, and cinema. They were the ones who reintroduced the world to Leith Theatre, which had been left empty for 20 years until the festival came to revamp it, and then shortly after breathed some life into The State Cinema before it was closed for good. After a year of emergency fundraising, the team are back in the planning stages for their next festival, while the city waits with bated breath to hear which secret location they have up their sleeves next.
October, secret location; hiddendoorblog.org
The Edinburgh Festival of Sound
Every year it feels like there’s a new boutique festival to try out, but it’s not everyday you find one that hones in on the soundwaves themselves. This festival is for anyone who loves to geek out over frequencies, 3D mics or synthesizers – the bedroom producers and sound designers of the world, although anyone is welcome to come and get lost in the mechanics. Over two days the festival will host a professional forum with speakers working in sound from around the world, a showcase of sound installations (we’re keeping our fingers crossed for the Giant 303 synthesizer), and a Saturday night party featuring some of Edinburgh’s favourite DJs.
February 2020, Teviot Row House; tefos.co.uk
Wee Dub Festival
Edinburgh’s vibey weekender devoted to all things riddim, roots, and soundsystem culture. Usually the city turns into a hotbed of Six Nations fever for the month of March, but if you prefer dub over scrums then you’ll feel at home with the Wee Dub family. There are reggae takeovers in cafes, bars, and clubs across the city, with documentaries to chill to during the day before getting down to a good old-fashioned skank later on. You can count on a great selection of local stalwarts on the lineup like Mighty Oak Soundsystem, Escape Roots, and Mungo’s Hi-Fi, alongside reggae legends like Solo Banton and Jah Skaka. Wee Dub turns 10 this year, so you can expect it to be a big one!
13 - 16 Mar, various venues; weedubfestival.co.uk
Beltane Fire Festival
Move over Burning Man. Edinburgh gets its own fire festival every year and it comes with a pagan twist. Drawing from ancient Celtic folklore about the goddess and god of Spring, and with its roots in the free party movement at the end of the 80s’, Beltane combines drumming, dance, theatre, and fire into an ecstatic celebration of Summer’s return. Head for the top of Calton Hill to witness hundreds of volunteers caked in body paint and speaking in tongues as they embody the spirits from the next world come to help along the change of the seasons.
30 April, Calton Hill; beltane.org
Part art crawl, part exhibition opening, and part night out with pals, LeithLate is a pop-up platform for artists in Leith, Edinburgh, and beyond. We were all gutted in 2018 when we heard it wasn’t happening, but thankfully it’s lived on this year in a smaller weekender and associated events. We can expect some cool things for 2020 too. It’s the centenary year of Leith’s amalgamation with Edinburgh, which the group is marking with some artistic events and collaborations across the port - keep your eye on their website for upcoming announcements.
Dates and locations TBA; leithlate.co.uk