A-Z of capital cities: Edinburgh

If things had panned out different in September, Edinburgh could have turned into a foreign destination for Brits; yet besides the politics lies a city enriched in diverse culture, arts and history. It is not only Scotland’s capital but also one of the world’s most fascinating cities. Famous for its festivals, the city regularly transforms into a place of celebration and mischief. 

With attention starting to turn towards one of the biggest nights of the year, there’s no better place to celebrate New Year’s Eve than Scotland’s capital, where 35,000 people took part in celebrations last year. The fun kicks off on 30th December with a torchlight procession through the city centre, which concludes at Calton Hill. The next day turns into one great party, with live bands and DJs playing in the heart of the city. This year’s headliner at the Concert in the Gardens is Lily Allen and the line-up at the Street Party includes Mercury Prize winners, Young Fathers. The next day will start 2015 with a free tour of Edinburgh’s Old Town, incorporating music, art and theatre.

Arguably the best time to visit the city, however, is during August when Edinburgh transforms into one of the largest arts festivals in the world. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival hosts thousands of performers from around the globe every year, from the biggest names in comedy to university students. Expect the unexpected as shows may take place in the hotel you’re staying in, the back room of a pub or even a gloomy alleyway.

If you’re unable to visit Edinburgh while the Fringe is on, there’s still plenty to do. Dominating the city’s skyline is Edinburgh Castle, a famous landmark built upon an extinct volcano. There’s plenty to see too, whether it be the Crown Jewels, exploring the ancient dungeons, or watching the firing cannons at 1pm. After visiting the castle, take a stroll along the beautiful Royal Mile, which nowadays is a sea of tartan and filled with buckers playing the bagpipes. Along the mile you can find The Scotch Whisky Experience along with the fantastic Camera Obscura, a maze of optical illusions with a fantastic view of the city at the top.

For those who love to shop, head to Princes Street and Jenners, a huge department store, known as the Harrods of the north. There are of course souvenir shops all across the city too, where you’ll be able to find more tartan based products than you’ve ever imagined. If you’re after vintage clothing, Herman Brown and Armstrong’s Vintage are great spots.

Edinburgh Zoo is also a must visit. This is the only zoo in Great Britain to house koalas and giant pandas, and the highlight of a visit is without doubt the daily penguin parade; a rare opportunity to get close to the penguins as they go for a stroll amongst visitors. The penguins at Edinburgh Zoo were also one of the main inspirations for this year’s John Lewis advert.


A trip to Edinburgh would not be complete without visiting Arthur’s Seat, a dormant volcano, sitting at the highest point of the city. You don’t need to be an experienced climber to make your way to the top, and once you get up there, you’ll be greeted with a fantastic view of the city. After making your way down the volcano, make sure you have a look around the Palace of Holyroodhouse – one of the Queen’s official residences.

Whatever you end up doing and whenever you decide to visit, you’re bound to have an incredible time in Edinburgh; a city drenched in culture, arts and history, and home to arguably some of the greatest public celebrations in Europe.

Michael Winnington 

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Images courtsey of Raphael ChekrounRichard Bloomfield and Nigel Swales via Flickr 


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