Need help planning a weekend of unmatched culture, mouth-wateringly good food and quintessential Scottish experiences? You've come to the right place. Our weekend guide is here to make sure you don’t miss a beat, letting you soak up the exceptional array of events happening in Edinburgh during August.
Friday 11 August
What better way to start your weekend than with a classic? Head to the Festival Theatre for the 7.30pm performance of Trojan Women, where a cast of 25 women deliver a whirlwind performance of music, dance and theatre. Based on the ancient Greek myth of the Trojan War and its female survivors, the play has been a classic for well over a thousand years. Ong Keng Sen has reimagined the story blending together the ancient Korean form of pansori with music from K-pop producer Jung Jae-il. Watch the trailer below to get a taste of this unique form of storytelling.
You can either spend some time contemplating what you’ve just seen, or just sit down and relax! You are spoilt for choice in Newington but we recommend Southpour for locally sourced fresh food and a cocktail menu that never disappoints.
After you have filled your stomach, take a stroll through the Meadows towards the West End of Edinburgh. Why not treat yourself to a luxurious stay with our partner, Waldorf Astoria – The Caledonian? As a former railway station, it is packed full of Scottish history. Not only that, it has possibly the best view of Edinburgh Castle that a hotel could offer.
Enjoy the view, rest your head and get ready for your next action-packed day in the cultural capital of the country.
Saturday 12 August
After breakfast in the stunning surrounds of the Waldorf Astoria’s Peacock Alley, retrace your steps back to Newington to the serene Queens Hall, just up the road from last night's venue. On your way there, why not pass through Grassmarket and grab yourself a coffee and pastry from Pirlous. If you’re feeling peckish, they also have a great breakfast menu featuring all the classic morning treats. Then make your way to The Queen’s Hall for the 11am performance from Dunedin Consort showcasing Bach's musical genius. The group and its music director, the conductor and scholar John Butt, are long-standing Festival favourites.
Having immersed yourself in the elegance of Bach’s work, it’s time to find a place to eat before heading to your next show. Visit Paradise Palms where you will be greeted by a plant-based extravaganza. Whether you are looking for a colossal burger or loaded fries, this is the place to go! From one unique food experience to another, head to The Studio just across the road at 2pm for an intimate dinner party of smell, taste and touch. Geoff Sobelle presents FOOD, an immersive commentary on how, why and what we eat.
Feeling tired? You have a couple of hours to relax before one of your two evening shows. But if you want to keep the energy up, you could tick off some of the cultural must-sees in Edinburgh. Check out The Royal Scottish Academy for a smashing exhibition of Grayson Perry’s work. If you want to carry on exploring, head onto another of Edinburgh’s glorious galleries; Stills, The National Portrait Gallery and Fruitmarket Gallery are all just a stone’s throw away.
Once you have a catalogue of galleries under your belt, you can make your way to Usher Hall at 6pm for the concert performance of The Magic Flute. Join a cast of exceptional singers and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Chorus, led by their Principal Conductor Maxim Emelyanychev, for a concert performance of Mozart’s enchanting masterpiece.
Still wanting more? We’ve got your covered for your last few hours of the day at The Hub. Journey down to the home of the International Festival, grab a drink from our bar and enjoy Project Smok’s innovative blend of Scottish traditional music and pop influences. It all kicks off at 10pm, so you're bound to want to boogie late into the night. With five shows down, it’s time to rest and recuperate for the last day of your Festival weekend.
Sunday 13 August
Start your day with a sweet treat from Lovecrumbs, an Edinburgh independent bakery full of delicious baked goods. You’ll be able to hear the bagpipes in the distance, so why not continue your Scottish experience by heading to Traverse Theatre for Thrown at 11am? Poignant and dynamic, Thrown gets to grips with belonging and identity in Scotland. It will be funny, it will be loud, it will be brutal. After being exposed to the joyous reality of backhold wrestling, now is the perfect time to visit the Castle. If you want to avoid the crowds on The Royal Mile, climb up Johnson Terrace to be greeted by the overwhelming beauty of Edinburgh Castle.
While up there, grab a bite to eat at the Festival staff’s favourite, the Hideout Café. Not only do they have pastries to die for, they also offer delicious sandwiches to keep you going until your afternoon show. As the son of a doctor and a journalist, director Tiago Rodrigues has often wondered why he chose to tell stories about the world rather than attempt to save it in a more concrete way. In a multilingual performance, As Far As Impossibleexposes the dissonance between humanitarian workers work lives and home lives. Make your way to The Lyceum, just a 10-minute walk from the Royal Mile, for the 2.30pm performance.
If you fancy a cocktail treat, head to Dragonfly just up the road from Grassmarket. Or if you want to stretch your legs, head to the hidden gem of William Street to find an array of independent clothes shops, bookshops and cafés. Maybe even treat yourself to a new outfit for your evening shows! Then head over to Usher Hall for 5pm where the National Youth Choir of Scotland will take you under its wing for two iconic works of 20th-century choral music to soothe, intrigue and inspire.
The day is not over yet! You have time to grab some dinner before your final show of the weekend. Head across town via Hanover Street to experience Nisha Katona’s vision of serving the ‘kind of food Indians eat at home’ at Mowgli Street Food. Our personal favourite has to be the Treacle Tamarind Fries – it shouldn't work but it does! After your meal, make your way to the Festival Theatre at 9pm for Chapter 3: The Brutal Journey of the Heart, where nine dancers embark on an intense journey exploring love and relationships. They move hypnotically as an ensemble through emotional highs and lows with a score ranging from blues and country to folk and Afrobeat.
With that, the second weekend of the Festival comes to a close. You’ve ticked off some incredible Edinburgh must-sees, experienced the hidden gems of the city and most importantly soaked up Edinburgh’s cultural explosion in August. Head home to rest up, and share your memories with us using #EdIntFest, and see you next weekend!