Edinburgh: Arts, Theatre and Film

Here are some of our favourite places to take in Edinburgh's culture. Take note, students.

Feature | 03 Sep 2013

Click here for a online map showing all of these wonderful places

The Stand
5 York Pl 01315587272
It might not look like much from the basement steps outside, but The Stand is the undisputed permanent residence of Edinburgh comedy. The schedule is always packed with big-name comedians as well as up-and-comers, and their Red Raw beginners’ night is the place to go for undiscovered and brand-new talent, or to try your hand yourself if you’re feeling saucy.

Forest Cafe
141 Lauriston Pl 01312294922
It’s true what they say about artistic types – you just can’t keep them down. Having been booted from their former home on Forest Road, the Forest’s crew of volunteers have taken up residence in Tollcross (‘Edinburgh’s Times Square’ according to poet and regular Forest-goer Ryan van Winkle). Expect art, music, poetry and anything else that comes to mind in the freest arts space in the city. 

Bedlam Theatre
11B Bristo Pl 01312259893
An entirely student-run operation, this ramshackle but endearing space is finally free of the ugly scaffolding outside and able to show off its imposing facade. Inside expect award-winning student theatre all year round, as well as regular laughs courtesy of Edinburgh Uni’s improv comedy group the Improverts.

38 Home St 01312282800
Famed for its atmosphere and charm, the Cameo shows everything from mainstream hits to arthouse fare to retro cult classics. The cosy bar and homely foyer give the place a glow of old-school movie magic, and their student tickets are some of the cheapest around. Look out for their all-night horror marathons and one-off live events. 

18 Newbattle Ter 01314474771
In the student suburb of Morningside, this family-run cinema blends Hollywood fare with nostalgic pomp and circumstance. It can seem a little on the pricey side, but it’s well worth checking out for two reasons: the outrageously comfy leather seats, and the complimentary snacks rolled into the ticket price. A far cry from your average multiplex.

88 Lothian Rd 01312286382
From challenging European cinema to Woody Allen retrospectives to the best of modern Hollywood, the Filmhouse truly shows it all. Their £3.50 Friday matinees are unmatched anywhere in the city, and offer students the chance to experience everything the world of cinema has to offer for the price of an underwhelming supermarket sandwich. 

10 Cambridge St 01312283223
Widely considered to be the top writing theatre in Scotland, ‘The Trav’ is the place to go for exciting new productions by the country’s best theatrical talent. As well as producing, Traverse plays host to a whole range of visiting theatre groups, and runs regular workshops and Q&A sessions for those of you looking for a bit of inspiration or advice on your journey to theatrical stardom. 

Out of the Blue Drill Hall
36 Dalmeny St 01315557100
An old TA Drill Hall might not seem the most likely place for a bustling arts community, yet Out of the Blue is just that. A working hub of creativity with near-constant exhibitions during the week, the army past gets even more distant when the place is transformed into one of the city’s best flea markets once a month. Come early and rifle through all the arty nick-nacks Leith has to offer.

1 Summerhall 08458743000
With a venue the size of the former Dick Vet school, it takes a lot to fill it. Thankfully Summerhall has the right idea, packing the place with lots of little goings-on. There are exhibition spaces, regular gigs, two cafes, an onsite micro-brewery which runs regular tours and tasting events, and the building even has its own online TV station, Summerhall TV.

Fruitmarket Gallery
45 Market St 01312252383
The Fruitmarket Gallery is hard to miss, situated slap bang beside Waverley Station's side entrance at the foot of the Old Town. It’s just as well, as missing out on the great art, compact but well-stocked shop and brilliant downstairs cafe just wouldn’t be right. With free exhibitions taking in everything from painting to light installations, the Fruitmarket isn’t just hard to miss but difficult to get away from.

38 Calton Hill 01315561264
It’s been on the go for 29 years, so it's fitting that Collective has just moved into a big new home. The former City Observatory on Calton Hill now plays host to the gallery’s collection of challenging and powerful visual work. With local and international art on show, Collective is always looking to bring new work to the art community’s attention, and to start a debate. 

Edinburgh Printmakers
23 Union St 01315572479
The clue is in the name: Edinburgh Printmakers make prints. Besides the making and teaching of lithography to all comers, Printmakers run regular exhibitions by artists from all over. Their window into the print studio from the exhibition space gives a first hand look at the craft for any interested art students or lovers of printed tote bags.

14 Grassmarket 01312255525
Take it from us, it can be tricky to keep up the whole exercise thing when you're a student. Not to worry though, as Dancebase's range of classes can help you keep fit and learn a brand new skill. Ballet, tap, salsa, hip-hop and all points besides – if it's a kind of dance, they'll teach you how to do it, and give you a student discount as well.