Edinburgh on the Rise: A Look at Event Trends in the Scottish Capital


The city renowned for epic events such as The Fringe Festival and the colossal Hogmanay street party never disappoints when it comes to brilliant cultural happenings.  But what kind of events are currently gaining popularity in Edinburgh?

Richy Muirhead, founder of the Scottish Alternative Music Awards, has identified several trends that you need to know about.


Music events with a twist

The Scottish capital, home to celebrated acts as diverse as the Bay City Rollers and Young Fathers, has an ever evolving art scene: music gatherings of all types and sizes cater to a multitude of musical interests throughout the year.

A key happening is Wide Days, which takes place in April (21 – 22 April for 2017).  Launched in 2010 the annual event is widely regarded as Scotland’s key music convention, where various sectors of the music industry – from live, to artist management, Record Labels and A&R – congregate.

2017’s event will host speakers including Geoff Ellis (DF Concerts), Emily King (PPL) and Claire Gevaux (Help Musicians UK). The event is a valuable opportunity to learn about the music industry, network with key players, and discover new musical talent at the showcase events.

With ten days of music, plus cinema, theatre, dance and visual arts, The Hidden Door Festival (26 May – 4 June) is arguably a festival with it all.  2017’s festival will feature live performances from Scottish Album Of The Year 2016 winner Anna Meredith, Edinburgh indie legends Idlewild, and multi instrumentalist mayhem from The Hidden Orchestra.

Event attendees love unique experiences, whether that brings intimacy or exclusiveness to a show or performance.  Sofar Sounds do exactly that and have been creating excitement around the events industry since 2009, by hosting unique house parties with global artists like Leon Bridges, Bastille, Leeann Skoda and more in cities from London to Los Angeles; Copenhagen, and Edinburgh. 

These exclusive events are open to everyone, but to be in with an invitation you need to be in the loop – keep your eyes and ears open (basically; be part of their mailing list.)  The event will pop up to Edinburgh later this month with the lineup, and location all top secret until the day of the event. 


Festivals for foodies

High end pop-up style events are a key trend across Edinburgh’s food scene. In September, Edinburgh welcomes the first ever Rum Festival with over 100 types of rum to taste, plus talks from industry experts and a selection of different foods to pair with your drink.

At the other end of the spectrum the Edinburgh Coffee Festival caters for those with a passion for caffeine. This event, now in its third year, is based in The Corn Exchange and offers the chance to taste a range of different hot drinks, with interactive workshops to learn more about the process, and again entertainment throughout the day.

Finally, as well as showcasing over twenty five international breweries, the Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival in May will welcome over 3000 to The Biscuit Factory in Leith.  This behemoth beery gathering will see musical entertainment courtesy of Scottish acts Belle And Sebastian, Idlewild, and Young Fathers – plus up-close conversations with the brewers. 

The advent of events that offer a range of experiences rolled into one indicate that this format is what punters are looking for.


Rummagers rewarded

Treasures in the form of records, threads, and gems are on offer for the beady-eyed, at the various vintage fairs which have sprung up in Edinburgh of late.  

The Allander Record Fair at The Ocean Terminal in Leith is one such event. Music lovers can get their hands on a hefty selection of rare 7” and 12” LPs, as well as books, CDs, and DVDs. Those with wares to sell are also welcome at the fair, which regularly tours other Scottish towns and cities including Glasgow, Bathgate, and Falkirk.

The seasonal Spoonful of Vintage fair is the brainchild of Edinburgh duo The Vintage Vendors. The spring edition – which also happens to be their 5th birthday – takes place in the Stockbridge parish church and will have a selection of vintage fashion from the 1920s-1970s on offer – as well as homewares, jewellery and collectables. They will also be joined by Vee-Tone Records, a Scotland based independent music label who specialise in releasing roots music from the 1940s – 1960s – with refreshments served up courtesy of the Travelling Teapot.

In summary

With an ever increasing number of high quality productions, Edinburgh’s event industry continues to fly the flag for innovation and collaboration: from large-scale international showcases like the Fringe, to quirky underground haunts such as pop up record fairs.

A recurring theme is the emergence of events that showcase both local and international talent, and offer a blend of experiences under one roof – with a wallet friendly price tag!

Richy Muirhead is founder of the Scottish Alternative Music Awards. Now in its sixth year, the awards highlights new bands coming out of Scotland and brings fans together to discover new music.

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Hi, I lead Music, Arts and Entertainment marketing for Eventbrite UK and Ireland.

Gigs, exhibitions, festivals and yoga are among my favourite past times; I have also thrown over a hundred events myself! I love learning about event trends and look forward to sharing my experiences and knowledge with event managers and promoters.