What’s on in Edinburgh? Best events in 2018. | Day Out With The Kids

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What's on in Edinburgh? The Fringe and other fantastic kids’ events

Jo Dorey

16 March 2018

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4 minutes
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Edinburgh is renowned as a cultural hotspot the world over, from their raucous Hogmanay celebration to the ultimate performer’s pilgrimage, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Families flock from far and wide to be a part of what’s on in Edinburgh and according to the BBC, it’s the top UK destination outside of London with the National Museum of Scotland and Edinburgh Castle both raking in near 2 million visitors in 2017. We guess what we’re trying to say is, what are we waiting for? Let’s get stuck in!

A view of Edinburgh Castle.

Family and kids’ events in Edinburgh

Spring Events

  • Puppet Animation Festival, 28th March - 18th April, Summerhall:

If like many of us here at DOWTK you’re a Jim Henson fan, the Puppet Animation Festival is a must not miss! Now in its 35th year, it’s the UK’s largest and oldest annual performing arts event for kids with over 165 puppetry performances, animated films and workshops in more than 90 venues across the country. It’s a fantastically creative affair and inclusive, with a neurodiverse range of events for fans from 0 to 12. Our top tip? Before the curtain closes, be sure to have a go at puppet making or test your skills in the animation workshop. The Pixar pioneers of tomorrow may be right under your nose...

Kids playing at the Puppet Animation Festival.

  •  Edinburgh International Science Festival, 31st March - 15th April, begins at Harbourside House:

What makes the world go round, or what is it in grass that makes it green? The Edinburgh International Science Festival should answer, if not all, at least a good few of your curious kids’ questions. Over the two weeks expect to see a programme packed with discussions, screenings and exhibitions, as well as some mind-bending workshops. Families will be encouraged to get hands-on with cutting-edge science and ask any question that comes to mind. In terms of what’s on in Edinburgh, it’ll be the only event to include spacecrafts AND dinosaurs!

Summer Events

  • Edinburgh International Children’s Festival, 26th May - 3rd June, at the National Museum of Scotland: 

This one says it all in the title: an Edinburgh event dedicated entirely to kids? Sounds good to us! The Edinburgh International Children’s Festival brings with it the very best of kid’s theatre and dance from around the world, with a diverse mix of Scottish heritage and international influence. Over the 9 day run, the team really put an emphasis on striking visual productions so none of the near 10,000 kids that attend will leave feeling disappointed. It also opens with a weekend of free pop-up performances and arts activities, all tailored to your littluns.

  • Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 3rd August - 27th August, all over the city:

If you asked anyone, anywhere, what’s on in Edinburgh, you could bet your bottom dollar they would say the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s the largest arts festival in the world and takes over the entire city with colour, creativity and more than a few madcap performances! Thousands of artists take to the streets and fill hundreds of stages all over town, and one of the best bits? A lot of it is free. Simply step out of your door and see something amazing, with theatre, dance, comedy, children’s shows, musicals, spoken word - there are simply too many to list here. Take a look at our ‘10 reasons Edinburgh Festival is great for kids’ blog to learn more.

Performers and a family at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

  • Edinburgh International Book Festival, 11th August - 27th August, Charlotte Square Gardens:

Bring books to life for your family at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Made up of over 800 Edinburgh events throughout the city, rising stars of fiction and actual Nobel Prize-winners will be sharing ideas and inspiring discussion. But what about the kids we hear you say? The whole of Charlotte Square Gardens and the west end of George Street will be transformed into a magical tented village with workshops and visits from the stars of children’s literature, including the illustrators who bring tales to life. Literature lovers, young and old, this one’s for you!

Autumn Events

  • Scottish International Storytelling Festival, 19th October - 31st October, at the Scottish Storytelling Centre:

Kids can lose themselves in a world of tall tales while parents pick up a few tips for bedtime at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival. Workshops and performances will be taking place and all will be centred around the wonderful oral tradition of storytelling, as well as bringing a culturally diverse crowd together to share in the adventure. Musicians will be in on the act too, bringing ballads and rhythm with them, while kids will love the special strand of Halloween activities. All in all, it’s one of the loveliest family events out there.  

A mother and kids reading a storybook.

Winter Events 

  • Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, 30th December - 1st January, starts at the Royal Mile:

Let’s end on a belter! Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has a long list of recommendations but our favourite has to be the fact that it’s the only festival ever (at the time of writing) to appear in the Discovery Channel’s Top 25 World Travel Experiences. It’s honestly that much of a spectacle. Join the global crowd to see marchers bearing firelit torches, stunning fireworks and that very old, potentially very silly Scottish tradition: birling! Then, as the clock strikes midnight, join hands and be part of the world’s biggest rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Whatever your age, this has got to be on your list of the best Edinburgh events.

PS. What in the world is birling? The dictionary tells us it’s a game played by lumberjacks, in which each tries to balance longest on a floating log while rotating the log with the feet. Yikes!

Signs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

We hope you enjoyed reading our roundup of what’s on in Edinburgh as much as we enjoyed writing it. After peeking at pictures and checking out the lineups for 2018, we rather fancy packing our bags and heading there right now! If you and your brood decide to join us, check out our things to do in Edinburgh page for plenty of fun-packed family activities north of the border, or look below for our top suggestions. See you on the other side.

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Jo Dorey

16 March 2018

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Jo is a Copywriter at Day Out With The Kids. She’s lived all over the world in places like Pakistan, Hungary and Hong Kong - these days though she loves a good, long walk and hanging out with her cat, Fergus.

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