What do Edinburgh locals do in August?

Edinburgh is really buzzing during the festivals and it is a wonderful time to visit, but sometimes it’s good to find somewhere away from the madness to remind you that Edinburgh is still a city where people live and work. Here are some of the activities that locals like to do while the festivals are on or which you might like to try.

Pop-up gin gardens

During August Edinburgh comes alive with a variety of pop-up gin gardens that are both fun and luxurious escapes. So whether you head to the Edinburgh Gin Garden at the Melville Monument, One Square’s colourful Pickering’s Gin Terrace, or the Tanqueray TEN Terrace behind the G&V Royal Mile Hotel, you’ll undoubtedly be served a brilliant cocktail. And with Scotland increasingly renowned for gin distilling, it is likely to be a local tipple you are testing.


Swim at Portobello

Just three miles from Edinburgh city centre, Portobello Beach is a charming Victorian seaside suburb, with two miles of golden sand making it perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Its long promenade is ideal for taking a stroll and is dotted with buskers, the famous wee green van for coffee and cake, traditional fish and chips and plenty of convivial pubs. A short visit to Portobello is like taking a tiny summer holiday!

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Sunbathe in The Meadows

Despite Scotlad’s reputation for wet weather, the sun does come out in the summer months. The Meadows, an expanse of open space in the south of the city, provides a lush haven in the summer months. Tree-lined paths criss-cross the area and locals come here to play Frisbee, enjoy a barbecue and to watch the world go by in the shade of cherry trees. With daylight until at least 10pm there is all the more time to enjoy the outdoors and relax.

Edinburgh Meadows_460x385

Edinburgh International Book Festival

The Edinburgh International Book Festival in August is often described as an ‘oasis’ located in the city centre. The quiet leafy space in Charlotte Square gardens is a little bit of tranquillity away from the August buzz. You can browse the festival’s book shop, enjoy coffee, cake and ice creams, or listen to world-class authors and celebrities such as Alexander McCall Smith, Ruby Wax, and Ian Rankin.

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Sleep under canvas

The city’s accommodation is so busy during August that sometimes it is nice to get away from the buzz for a bit and stay somewhere like Dundas Castle Estate’s glamping site. Ten luxury canvas cottages set around a lake on the estate feel like you are deep in the countryside and yet, it is under half an hour to the city centre. With ensuite bathrooms and hot water, comfy proper beds, wood burning stoves and lots of eco extras, it’s festival glamping with a difference.


Fireworks over Edinburgh Castle

Every year the 45-minute long Virgin Money Fireworks Concert brings Edinburgh’s summer to a resplendent conclusion. Set against the iconic backdrop of the historic Castle, this spectacular event brings together stirring orchestral music from the world-renowned Scottish Chamber Orchestra, while a fireworks team provides magnificent pyrotechnics, specially choreographed by international fireworks artists Pyrovision. It is both inspiring and uplifting and a seat in Princes Street Gardens is one of the hottest tickets in town.

Douglas Walker is Chair of Unique Venues of Edinburgh.

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Comments (2)

  1. Jean Farrell says:

    I was just there, and we stayed in a lovely Airbnb on the Meadows. It was very peaceful, away from the chaos of the Fringe, but close enough to enjoy it when we wanted to. I love Edinburgh!

  2. Lenna says:

    It’s so annoying that I live fairly close to Edinburgh (in relation to the whole world) and yet I’ve never been! I’ve always felt as if it was the perfect place for me. Gin really is all the rage right now isn’t it?! The book festival sounds fascinating, a wonderful day out i bet

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