Ceilidh Culture With Traditional Live Music in Edinburgh

Ceilidh Culture With Traditional Live Music in Edinburgh

Ceilidh culture is popular in Edinburgh, so we’re regularly asked “where can we find live traditional music for ceilidh dance in Edinburgh?” if you want to dance too then it’s worth checking out the Edinburgh Ceilidh Club http://edinburghceilidhclub.com/

There’s also a great website for the best Ceilidhs in Scotland.  https://www.scotlandshop.com/tartanblog/the-best-ceilidhs-in-scotland#culture  for more information.

Happy gigging!


Visiting Edinburgh?

If you plan to visit Edinburgh, why not enjoy your holiday in a charming self-catering apartment with Greatbase? Our holiday apartments are centrally located with well-equipped kitchens and comfortable bedrooms. You can enjoy your holiday in style and feel completely at home. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment on this post or contact us directly using the details at the top of the web page. You can discover more about our holiday properties here.

Chinese New Year Edinburgh 2020 Guide – Events and Accommodation

Chinese New Year 2020 Edinburgh Guide – Events and Accommodation

2020 marks a special year between Scottish and Chinese Culture because the Lunar Chinese New Year and Robert Burns Night both fall on the same date – 25th January 2020 – which only happens every 76 years. No matter whether you’re a local in Edinburgh or a tourist visiting the city, this guide will provide you with insights into the events and accommodation you can enjoy to celebrate Chinese New Year and Robert Burns Night.


Enjoy Scottish and Chinese Culture in One City

Robert Burns and Burns Night in Edinburgh

Robert Burns Night 2020 Edinburgh

Robert Burns was a renowned Scottish poet and lyricist who is considered the most famous pioneer of the Romantic Movement in Scotland. His works also inspired the founders of liberalism and socialism and so he became a cultural icon in Scotland.

On 25th January every year, Scots will come together to commemorate the life and contribution of Robert Burns with a traditional Burns supper and a series of local events.

This year, Burns & Beyond with Johnnie Walker will host a programme showcasing traditional Scottish and contemporary Scottish arts and culture in Edinburgh and across Scotland from 21st January 2020 to 1st February 2020.


Chinese Lunar New Year in Edinburgh

Chinese New Year Celebration Edinburgh

Chinese Lunar New Year is considered the most important festival in Chinese culture. Also known as the Spring Festival, it originated during the Shang Dynasty (17-11 century BC) and many customs and rituals continued through the generations.

Chinese Lunar New Year is an occasion for Chinese families and friends to gather together for a reunion meal and spend time together during the festive period. It also symbolises hope and blessing for the forthcoming year. Some other traditions include spring cleaning, putting red scrolls with complementary poetic couples at the gate, and festivals with lion and dragon dances.

This year, Edinburgh has the largest celebration for Chinese New Year in Scotland, from Tuesday 21st January until 6th February. The Edinburgh Chinese New Year Festival is part of a wider partnership between Burns & Beyond and Johnnie Walker and marks the first time Scotland will have a coordinated programme of special events and initiatives celebrating the cultural highlights of Scottish and Chinese culture to welcome in the Year of the Rat.


Event Highlights

Here is the list of events that visitors to Edinburgh can enjoy in celebration of Chinese Lunar New Year and Robert Burns Night.


1. Edinburgh Official Chinese New Year Concert

The Chinese New Year Concert, held at the Usher Hall, will reflect the optimism of the Year of the Rat. It will include performances from the Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Edinburgh Singers, as well as Chinese folk pieces performed by Chinese artists Guizhou Song and Dance Troupe.

Dance Troupe has toured over 20 countries, including the UK, France, Japan, Russia, and Canada, promoting Guizhou traditions and artistic exchange around the world. They will perform a variety of songs and dances that portray the unique folk customs and styles in Guizhou, China for the audience.

Edinburgh Official Chinese New Year Gala Music Concert 2020 at Usher Hall

Photo Credit: Scotland China Education Network

  • Date: 21st January 2020
  • Time: 19:00
  • Location: Usher Hall, Lothian Rd, Edinburgh EH1 2EA
  • You can book tickets here.


If you are looking to stay within a minute’s walk of the Usher Hall, our centrally located Usher Hall Views apartment could serve as a comfortable self-catering home for you. 

Usher Hall Views


2. Year of the Rat Celebration Concert

Music SymbolMusicians from Tianjin University of Finance and Economics will perform a selection of pieces based on traditional Chinese folk music. The troupe consists of ten musicians playing a range of instruments including the Erhu, Chinese Zither, Drum, Pipa and Suona horn. The event will be held in the Lecture Theatre of the Science Building in the Royal Botanical Gardens.


  • Date: Thursday, 6th February 2020
  • Time: 19:30 – 22:30
    Location: Lecture Theatre, Science Building, Royal Botanical Gardens, 20A Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR
  • You can book tickets here.


Stockbridge is a vibrant area in Edinburgh’s New Town. Our Cheyne Street Apartment provides a comfortable sleep for a group of six only a short walking distance from Princes Street and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Cheyne Street



3. Chinese Lanterns at St Giles’ Cathedral: Burns and Beyond 2020

To celebrate Burns Night and Chinese New Year falling on 25th January 2020, Edinburgh’s famous St Giles’ Cathedral will feature over 400 Chinese lanterns. There are a variety of FREE daytime events including workshops, tours and concerts to provide you with a unique experience under the canopy of lanterns from 23rd January to 1st February 2020.

St Giles Cathedral Edinburgh, High Street, Royal Mile

  • Date: 22nd January to 1st February 2020
  • Daytime entry: 9:00 – 17:00 (Mon – Sat); 13:00 – 17:00 (Sun)
  • Location: St Giles’ Cathedral, High St, Edinburgh, EH1 1RE


4. Evening Illumination at St Giles’ Cathedral: Burns and Beyond 2020

Apart from the free daytime events at St Giles’ Cathedral, you can enjoy an evening illumination and soundtrack in this historic building. The illumination will create a spectacular sensory experience along with a programme of daytime and evening performances and events, with tickets costing £5.

  • Date: 22nd January to 1st February 2020
  • Time:  Each evening 17:30 – 20:00
  • Tickets: £5.00 (including booking fee)
  • Book tickets here.


5. Giant Lanterns: Lost Worlds

Lanterns symbolise vitality, joy, good fortune and the wish for a bright future. Why not spend a day out at Giant Lanterns: Lost Worlds in Edinburgh Zoo to enjoy the bespoke displays created by Chinese craftspeople from Sichuan? The theme for this year is Lost Worlds, transporting you back in time to meet dinosaurs and all kinds of prehistoric creatures! There are over 600 brand new, beautifully crafted lanterns lighting a magical trail through the zoo. 

  • Date: 15 November to 26 January 2020
  • Time: 16:00 – 21:00
  • Location: Edinburgh Zoo, 134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh, EH12 6TS

Edinburgh’s West End is a lively and centrally located area that has lots of local shops and traditional pubs and restaurants. Princes Street is but a few minutes’ walk away. Why not stay in our William Street Lane Apartment or Rutland Square Studio to enjoy the lively scene at the West End? You can reach Edinburgh Zoo in 20 minutes by Lothian buses 24, 26 or 31 from these two apartments.

William Street Lane

Rutland Square



6. Chinese New Year: Family Activities and Performances

The National Museum of Scotland will hold free family-friendly activities and performances to celebrate Chinese New Year. You can drop in for a fun selection of traditional activities to celebrate the Year of the Rat, starting with a spectacular Lion Dance, and enjoy live performances and demonstrations throughout the day.

National Museum of Scotland

  • Date: 25th January 2020
  • Time: 11:00 – 16:00
  • Location: National Museum of Scotland (Grand Gallery, Level 1), Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF

You can try your hand at calligraphy, make a lucky red envelope, dress up in traditional costume, learn about the Chinese zodiac animals and use the trail to find those hidden around the museum. You can also enjoy a musical celebration of both Burns Night and Chinese New Year by Chinese and Scottish traditional musicians. The Musical Finale will be held at 15:45 at the National Museum of Scotland. 

You can click here for more information.

Looking for a spacious apartment with a well-equipped kitchen in Edinburgh’s Old Town? Royal Mile No.1, Royal Mile No. 2 and Royal Mile Heart are located in the quiet courtyard just off from the famous Royal Mile and any could be the perfect holiday home for you. 


Royal Mile No. 1

Royal Mile No. 2

Royal Mile Heart


7. Burns & Beyond Culture Trail 2020

This is an event that you shouldn’t miss if you love music and want to explore Scottish and Chinese culture. Burns & Beyond brings you a culture trail to let you enjoy eight venues with a four-hour pass on Saturday 25th January. With this culture trail ticket, you can explore Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns as you move from one venue to another, enjoying live music and performances by artists from across Scotland and beyond.

Each venue hosts a short show lasting approximately thirty minutes which is repeated throughout the evening so you can experience a feast of entertainment all in one night. 

Here are the event details of Burns & Beyond Culture Trail 2020:

  • Date: 25th January 2020
  • Time: Evening (varies depending on the venue)
  • Click here to view more information.


#1 Culture Trail: KT Tunstall & Friends

  • This is a specially curated evening of live music and chat in association with Lidl as part of the Burns & Beyond Culture Trail.


#2 Culture Trail: Blue Rose Code at Greyfriars’ Kirk, Greyfriars Pl

  • The songs of Ross Wilson aka Blue Rose Code address universal themes of love, loss, travel, home, accepting the past and embracing the future in a deeply personal way. 


#3 Culture Trail:  Lucky Middlemass’s Tavern at Assembly Rooms – Ballroom

  • You can enjoy an evening of live music and spoken word, featuring: Kinnaris Quintet, Rozi Plain and Nadine Ashai Jasset.


#4 Culture Trail: NEU! REEKIE! presents at Freemasons Hall, 96 George Street

  • Stanley Odd (full band)
  • Kevin Williamson with Kixx Collective & Craig Lithgow
  • Michael Pedersen, Davie Miller (FiniFlex/Tribe) & Carla J Easton collide


#5 Culture Trail:Whisky Tasting With Johnnie Walker

  • Johnnie Walker Ambassador Nigel Robertson will be your guide as you discover the distillation and taste behind some of Johnnie Walker’s most famous brands, including Black label / White Walker / Green Label / and Gold Label.


#6 Culture Trail: Gilded Balloon Basement, Rose Street

  • This venue holds a rapid-fire comedy set with a stellar line-up of talent from Scotland and beyond! Featuring Gareth Waugh, Christopher Macarthur-Boyd, Marjolein Robertson, Susan Riddell, Jamie Dalgleish and the legendary Scott Capurro.


#6 Culture Trail: Out Of The Ordinary & Ramrock Records

  • You will enjoy a riotous musical night to remember at the Liquid Rooms, 9C Victoria Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2HE.


#7 Culture Trail: Lanterns Illuminations at St Giles’ Cathedral

  • You can use the ticket to enjoy the evening lanterns illuminations at St Giles’ Cathedral, which together with its stunning architecture and soundtrack makes for an unmissable sensory experience.


#8 Culture Trail: Silent Adventures – Scotland Vs The World

  • You can enjoy non-stop dancing in a secret venue on the Culture Trail with the kings of the Silent Disco, Silent Adventures, and Edinburgh’s legendary DJ, The Great Calverto.


8. A Royal Mile Special: Chinese New Year

You can celebrate Chinese New Year 2020 with a special Year of the Rat-themed tour of the Royal Mile highlighting interesting characters from Scottish history. The tour guide will reveal the stories from prior Years of the Rat and the historical events that shaped Edinburgh’s past and our people, city and country.

From grand monarchs to our own Mercat Cross, bold New Town plans to riotous public executions, you’ll connect with the past with your Mercat storyteller as they guide you through the twisting tales and wynds of Scotland’s stories.

Edinburgh Old Town - Chinese New Year Celebration

  • Tour Date: Sat 25 Jan, Sun 26 Jan, Sat 1 Feb, Sun 2 Feb
  • Tour Time: 11:00 A.M.
  • Contact:  01312255445
  • Email: info@mercattours.com
  • Price: £14 (£12; Children £9; Family £27)

Want a luxurious stay in Edinburgh? Royal Mile Mansion located at 50 North Bridge is elegant and spacious and equipped with the best of modern amenities. You can enjoy your meal while overlooking the Royal Mile, Tron Kirk, and the Bridges.

Royal Mile Mansion


9. Chinese New Year at the Scotch Whisky Experience

The Scotch Whisky Experience is going red for Chinese New Year. Its Silver and Gold whisky tours will be available in Mandarin and Cantonese on 25th January 2020. Scottish tapas with a Chinese twist and a whisky cocktail celebrating both Chinese New Year and Burns Night will be served.

  • Date:  25th January 2020 
  • Contact: 0131 220 0441
  • Location: The Scotch Whisky Experience, 354 Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 2NE

If you are looking for grand accommodation next to Edinburgh Castle and the Scotch Whisky Experience, Ramsay Garden could be an ideal choice. This expansive holiday apartment has four comfortable bedrooms, a luxurious living room and a well-equipped kitchen. It can accommodate up to eight people.

Ramsay Garden


10. The ‘Not-So-Traditional Burns Supper’ 

If you want to celebrate Burns Night with a not-so-traditional Burns Night Supper, you can do so on 24th January. This event sees a night of comedy, live music and delicious food and drink with the hilarious Scott Gibson, plus a delicious three-course meal from award-winning local restaurant Urban Angel. To top it all off there will be an exhilarating ceilidh finale from the incredible Kilter Ceilidh Band.

Edinburgh Urban Angel facade

Urban Angel Restaurant


  • Date: 24th January, 2020
  • Time: 19:30  – 23:30
  • Venue: Freemason’s Hall, 96 George Street
  • Ticket: £50 (Including booking fee)
  • You can book the ticket here


11. Bairns’ Burns Supper: Family ceilidh dancing

You can join the incredible Kilter Ceilidh Band and some superb ceilidh callers for an entertaining, relaxed, child-friendly event. This all-ages event promises fun for all, and the kids can get an authentic taste of a Burns Supper with haggis.

Edinburgh Freemasons Hall facade

Freemason’s Hall, 96 George Street, Edinburgh

  • Date: 25th January 2020
  • Time: 12:00  – 13:00 
  • Venue: Freemason’s Hall, 96 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3DH.
  • Price: Free; just turn up with your dancing shoes ready.

For those unfamiliar with Scottish ceilidh dancing, watch the video below for a demonstration or see our blog post for more information.



12. The Ceilidh House: Tam O’Shanter at the Scottish Storytelling Centre

The Scottish Storytelling Centre brings you a family event on this special day. You can celebrate Burns Night and Chinese New Year with your family and friends for a special improvised ceilidh telling of Tam O’ Shanter in a friendly, lively, and enjoyable setting, with the chance to participate or just sit back and enjoy the fun!

  • Date: 25th January 2020
  • Time: 19:30 – 22:00
  • Venue: Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, EH1 1SR
  • Price: £10.00 
  • You can buy tickets here.


13. Museums in Mandarin & Collections in Cantonese

You can come and explore the highlights of the collections and museum with the Museums in Mandarin and Collections in Cantonese teams in St Cecilia’s Hall and the Anatomical Museum.

Tours are free but ticketed.

St Cecilia's Hall Edinburgh

St Cecilia’s Hall, Niddry Street, Cowgate, Edinburgh, EH1 1NQ

  • Date: Fri 24 Jan and Sat 25 Jan (Times & prices vary)
  • Location: St Cecilia’s Hall (0131 650 2600), Niddry Street, Cowgate, Edinburgh, EH1 1NQ; Anatomical Museum (0131 650 1000), Doorway 3, Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG.


14. Scottish Textiles Showcase

A showcase of work by Scottish artisans and woolen mills at which you can enjoy a free dram. Entry is free too!

Scottish Textiles Showcase Edinburgh

Photo credit: @scottishtextilesshowcase Instagram

  • Date: 20th Jan 2020 to 2nd February 2020
  • Time: 10:00 – 19:00
  • Location: Tron Kirk, Hunter Square, EH1 1QW
  • Find out more here.


15. Tartan Meets Tradition Chocolat Lock In

Hotel Chocolat is holding a chocolate-tasting event in its Frederick Street store to celebrate Burns Night and Chinese New Year. This event is perfect for chocolate lovers.

  • Dates:  20th Jan 2020, 22nd Jan 2020, 24th Jan 2020, 25th Jan 2020
  • Time: 18:15 – 19:15
  • Price: £10 for admission
  • Location: Hotel Chocolat, 7a Frederick Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2EY.


If you are looking for a holiday apartment within 10 minutes’ walk of Princes Street, our Cobbled Lane Mews or Heriot Row Apartment will delight you. The city’s best New Town and Old Town attractions are within short walking distance of each property. 

Cobbled Lane Mews

Heriot Row


Visiting Edinburgh in 2020?

If you plan to visit Edinburgh in 2020, why not enjoy your holiday in a charming self-catering apartment with Greatbase? Our holiday apartments are centrally located with well-equipped kitchens and comfortable bedrooms. You can enjoy your holiday in style and feel completely at home. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment on this post or contact us directly using the details at the top of the web page. You can discover more about our holiday properties here.


Would you like to know the best things to do for Valentine’s Day in EdinburghClick here to see how you can celebrate a special Valentine’s Day with your loved one.

Valentine’s Day in Edinburgh

Romantic things to do for Valentine’s Day in Edinburgh

Plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Edinburgh? How about getting some inspiration for romantic Valentine’s Day gifts and experiences to share with your beloved? Look no further as we have you covered with the best things to do for Valentine’s Day in Edinburgh. Be sure to bookmark this page and check back for updates in the coming weeks!

1. Where to buy chocolate for Valentine’s Day in Edinburgh 

What would Valentine’s Day be without chocolate? The gifting of chocolates on this special occasion was conceived in the 19th century by Richard Cadbury, whose name is synonymous with chocolate here in the UK. The tradition has been a mainstay of Valentine’s Day ever since and for that reason, a truly romantic chocolate-based experience goes further. Fortunately, a Valentine’s Day in Edinburgh won’t leave you short of options as the city has a thriving chocolate scene. See our suggestions below for the best chocolate-themed experiences to treat your loved one to on 14th February.


The Chocolatarium, 3 – 5 Cranston Street            

Why not go on a chocolate-making experience? The newest attraction on this list offers 90-minute guided chocolate tours in its Old Town premises adapted from a former escape room. Inspired by her work on South American cocoa plantations, the owner and tour guide resolved to put authenticity at the core of her venture and the result is an educational and interactive experience serving as a great gift and memory for chocoholics. Learn about, make and taste chocolate from all over the world in a nut-free environment, with vegan options available throughout. As a neat little extra, you can also present a gift voucher for the tour in the style of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket!


Coro the Chocolate Cafe, 13 Frederick Street

This speciality café lives up to its name with its chocolate-themed menu for breakfast and brunch, including crepes, cakes, waffles, pancakes, milkshakes and other sweet treats. The venue also offers savoury options and allows you to create your own desserts so is a safe choice even for non-chocolate lovers. If this somehow fails to satisfy your sweet-tooth, you needn’t dismay as you have a Thorntons with a chocolate fountain as your backup option right underneath!

Coro The Chocolate Cafe Edinburgh - Valentine's Day in Edinburgh



Chocolate Lounge in Harvey Nichols, 30 – 34 St Andrew Square

Found on the fourth floor of Scotland’s only Harvey Nichols store on the exclusive retail street of Multrees Walk, the chocolate lounge is equal parts cafe, ice cream parlour and ‘choctail’ bar. With Harvey Nichols’ trademark glamour, you’ll also find its in-house champagne on offer, as well as fondues, baked goods and smoothies.  

The Chocolate Lounge in Harvey Nichols, Multrees Walk - Valentine's Day in Edinburgh


Considerit, 3 – 5a Sciennes

This plant-based café and confectioners is an ideal option for vegans, with the shop’s owner, Claire, being a regular at Edinburgh’s popular vegan festival. Remarkably, her plant-based range encompasses not only chocolate but also doughnuts and ice cream in a range of fun flavours. Find Considerit at 3 – 5a Sciennes from Tuesdays to Sundays.



Hotel Chocolat, 7A Frederick Street

The first Hotel Chocolat was established in North London in 2004 and its popularity was such that it has now grown to encompass over 100 shops, cafes and restaurants. Despite its name, the chain’s only hotel is on a cocoa plantation in the Caribbean. The Edinburgh branch features a café as well as a boutique and ice cream parlour. You can therefore either purchase chocolates to take home for your loved one or make it a date and drop in together.


2. Where to buy flowers for Valentine’s Day in Edinburgh

Chocolate and flowers go hand-in-hand as Valentine’s Day essentials. Those lucky enough to spend their Valentine’s Day in Edinburgh will be happy to discover that the city has no shortage of quality florists; please find our roundup of the best below.


Rose & Ammi Florist, 2 Gillespie Crescent

This charming little shop stocks a range of plants, vases and pots, as well as chocolates made locally in Leith and extra gifts such as candles.


Simpson’s Florists, 23 West Preston Street

Besides fresh flowers for any budget, this florist has an online shop selling fruit and chocolate hampers, balloons and champagne. Even better, they also provide immediate delivery throughout Edinburgh. Their Valentine’s range includes a ‘florist choice’ option whereby the local florist will curate a bouquet for you, which is great for those who aren’t familiar with flowers!


Lorraine Graham Flowers, 45 Causewayside

Located just along from Summerhall, this independent floral design studio and shop specialize in plants that thrive in the challenging Scottish climate, and also stock a range of pots and planters. The Valentine’s favourites of luscious red roses, pink roses and white tulips were right inside the door.


Narcissus, 87 Broughton Street

Purveyor of specialist fresh flowers and bespoke bouquets and vases, Narcisuss was founded in 1997 and also sells home décor products. Its partner institution, The Narcissus Flower School, can be found at 15 East Norton Place and its floristry workshops could make a more imaginative Valentine’s gift, with classes available for all levels of experience.

Narcissus Flower Shop - Valentine's Day in Edinburgh



Garlands Florist, 29 Elm Row

Another veteran business with over three decades’ experience, Garlands Florist is a family-run venture at the top of Leith Walk. They’ve done the hard work for you and put together a Valentine’s Day range of bouquets, cuddly toys, vases and chocolates.


Fioritalia Florists, 6 Rodney Street

With over 30 years in the business, Fioritalia Florists are also very accessible as they’re open seven days a week. Fioritalia is a great place to pick up a presentation bouquet, but also sells chocolates, pottery, glassware, handmade cards and vases.

Fioritalia Flowers - Valentine's Day in Edinburgh



Banks Florists, 30A Raeburn Place

Based in the popular area of Stockbridge, Banks Florists also has its own Valentine’s Day range encompassing flowers, chocolates and wine. This family-run florist delivers throughout Edinburgh, where they can provide same-day delivery.

Banks Florists - Valentine's Day in Edinburgh



3. Best romantic walks in Edinburgh

If you’re looking for a hassle-free (not to mention literally free!), healthy and memorable experience for Valentine’s Day, taking a stroll through the city centre is an ideal option. Edinburgh has several scenic routes to cultivate an easeful frame of mind in which couples can enjoy each other’s company.


The Water of Leith Walkway

The Water of Leith is Edinburgh’s main river, issuing from the Pentland Hills and running over 22 miles to the Shore at Leith, where it flows into the Firth of Forth. Its walkway was created in 1983 and extends for 12 miles from Balerno to Leith. Designated an Urban Wildlife Site owing to its wide variety of birds and fish, the walkway offers you a backdrop of birdsong along its banks lined with ancient woodland. Its central section passes some of the city’s principal attractions including Murrayfield Stadium, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Dean Village, Stockbridge and the Royal Botanic Garden.

Water of Leith Walkway (Rocheid Bridge) in Edinburgh


Dean Village

Dean Village

Dean Village makes for an idyllic retreat from the bustle of the epicentre and is as photogenic as any picture postcard, so will make a great backdrop for some romantic photos along your stroll. The village marks the site of former grain milling and for 800 years its mills were driven by the Water of Leith’s current. It was a separate village prior to its amalgamation into Edinburgh in the 19th century. 








St Bernards’ Well

St Bernard's Well

Between Dean Village and Stockbridge you’ll pass St Bernard’s Well, a Greco-Roman/neo-classical structure containing a marble statue of the Greek Goddess of health, Hygieia, within Corinthian columns. The well was modelled on the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli in Italy and overlies a spring discovered in 1760 which was prized for its healthful properties. The well itself was installed over 230 years ago and named after St Bernard of Clairvaux, who was rumoured to have lived in a nearby cave. It was designed by celebrated Edinburgh painter Alex Nasmyth in 1789, with Hygieia added in 1884. St Bernard’s Well underwent restoration in 2013 and is still looking very healthy!


The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s acclaimed Royal Botanic Garden began as a small physic garden (a garden for medicinal plants) at Holyrood Park in 1670. A second site was formed in 1676 on grounds leased from Trinity Hospital where today you’ll find Waverley Station. The garden relocated again in 1763 to a ‘green field’ location near Leith before finding its current location in Inverleith in 1820. Today the garden encompasses 116 hectares playing host to 13,500 plant species. The attraction welcomes over one million visitors each year. The grounds were opened to the public in 1881.


Princes Street Gardens

These formerly private gardens were inaugurated in 1820 following the draining of the Nor Loch, which once protected Edinburgh Castle. The gardens were opened to the public in 1851. In West Princes Street Gardens you’ll find The Ross Fountain, which was installed in 1872 and the cast iron structure was restored in 2018 at a cost of £2 million. In East Princes Street Gardens you’ll find the Scott Monument dedicated to the Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott. For a fare you can access its spiral staircases leading to a series of viewing platforms with stunning views across the city. There are 288 steps to its highest platform.


To find the top spots for romantic fine dining, see our blog post on Edinburgh’s best romantic restaurants.


  • If you’re not already in Edinburgh or haven’t made plans to visit yet, why not go the extra mile and book a Valentine’s getaway? As it falls on a Friday, it could make for a great weekend break. Our self-catering properties are all ideally located in the city centre within walking distance of all the above. Their well-equipped kitchens would allow you to prepare a romantic meal for two between venturing into the city. Moreover, they provide a cosy nesting ground upon your return. See below for our range of central properties suitable for couples to share a romantic Valentine’s Day in Edinburgh. If you want to see our full selection of properties, just check out our home page.


Royal Mile Heart

Rutland Square

Dundas Apartment

Grassmarket 1

Grassmarket 4

Grassmarket 5





























Golf in Edinburgh

The genesis of golf

Among Edinburgh’s many claims to fame is its status as the site of the earliest recorded rules of golf, at Leith Links. Here, on what was possibly Britain’s first public green, gentlemen once played “gowff” for wagers, erected what was arguably the first purpose-built clubhouse, created the inaugural rules of golf, and hosted the first organized competition and international challenge match. Additionally, they procured a trophy to compete for each year.

John Rattray, the first Captain of the Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Leith Links, laid out and signed the first recorded written rules of golf on 7th March 1774 as the Town Council of Edinburgh’s precondition for the annual award of a Silver Club, which Rattray had requested as a prize for the winner of his Open Competition. This milestone thereby originated the concept of an Open Competition in addition to laying the foundations of the modern game of golf.

Rattray’s rules are reproduced below:

  1. You must Tee your Ball within a Club’s length of the Hole.
  2. Your tee must be upon the ground.
  3. You are not to change the Ball which you Strike off the Tee.
  4. You are not to remove, Stones, Bones or any Break Club, for the sake of playing your Ball, Except upon the fair Green & that only within a Club’s length of your Ball.
  5. If your Ball comes among Watter or any wattery filth, you are at liberty to take out your Ball & bringing it behind the hazard and Teeing it you may play it with any Club and allow your Adversary a Stroke for so getting out your Ball.
  6. If your Balls be found any where touching one another, You are to lift the first Ball, till you play the last.
  7. At Holling, you are to play your Ball honestly for the Hole, and, not to play upon your Adversary’s Ball not lying in your way to the Hole.
  8. If you should lose your Ball, by it’s being taken up, or any other way, you are to go back to the Spot where you struck last, & drop another Ball, And allow your adversary a Stroke for the misfortune.
  9. No man at Holling his Ball, is to be allowed, to mark his way to the Hole with his Club, or anything else.
  10. If a Ball be stopp’d by any person, Horse, Dog, or any thing else, The Ball so stop’d must be play’d, where it lyes.
  11. If you draw your Club in order to Strike & proceed so far in the Stroke as to be bringing down your Club; If then, your Club shall, break, in any way, it is to be Accounted a Stroke.
  12. He, whose Ball lyes farthest from the Hole is obliged to play first.
  13. Neither Trench, Ditch or Dyke, made for the Preservation of the Links, nor the Scholar’s Holes or the Soildier’s Lines, shall be accounted a Hazard; But the Ball is to be taken out/ Teed / and play’d with any Iron Club.



Where to play golf in Edinburgh

Today, Leith Links plays host to football, cricket, and rugby in addition to the golfing events organized by the Leith Rules Golf Society. In keeping with tradition, these events are played using hickory clubs, and thus the Society’s foremost competition is dubbed the “Hickory Open”, with the Foursomes Trophy as the prize (play is based on the foursomes format). The Society also arranges challenge matches with local clubs in a spirit of friendly rivalry.

Edinburgh’s share of the best regional courses for the Lothians, as listed on Top 100 Golf Courses, follows. You can find detailed profiles of all of the courses mentioned below by clicking their respective entries on this web page. As you can see from Top 100 Golf Courses’s ranking system (at the bottom of this page), many criteria are employed in their ratings, but in keeping with the focus of this article, I’ve elucidated historical details of the courses with the closest connections to the genesis of golf, its institutions and conventions.

Dalmahoy (East) [12th]

Royal Burgess [15th]: The Royal Burgess Golfing Society of Edinburgh lays claim to being the oldest continual golf club in the world, with the first reference to its existence dating from 1735. It has undergone a series of changes since its inception, including the advent of legal corporation status in July of 1800 by dint of a Seal of Cause from the Town Council, which allowed the Society to hold property, devise its own rules and regulations, and promote golf among its members. Both its motto and name were also changed, the former from “Long and Far” to “Far and Sure” in the wake of its new legal status, and the latter from “Edinburgh Burgess Golfing Society”, by which the club was known from around 1787, to its present name, as the result of a Royal Edict issued by King George V in September 1929.

In addition to its constitutional changes, the club changed location in 1874 because of the short playing season at the old Bruntsfield Links course. They moved to Musselburgh, where The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club were already established, and The Bruntsfield Links Golf Society was to follow 2 years later. By the next decade, however, the rising popularity of golf resulted in Musselburgh becoming overcrowded, and the Society decided to uproot once more, this time in pursuit of their own course, which they procured at Barnton in 1894. Prior to the sale of the grounds, the Council solicited a consultation from Tom Morris to assess the land, and he approved, commenting that the quality of the turf was such that it was ready for immediate play, and in his opinion would make one of the best courses in the country. The course, which opened in May 1895, has passed through numerous eminent hands, with the original design devised by Willie Park Jnr. Fellow Open Champion and golf architect, James Braid, redesigned the course in the 1920s, and again following World War 2, during which sheep were allowed to graze there and 4 fairways were consigned to agriculture. Harry Colt and Philip Mackenzie Ross are other famous names who have contributed to the evolution of the course over the years. The accompanying clubhouse opened 2 years after the course, in May of 1897.

Since King George V renamed the Society, his formulation has been validated by its royal membership, with The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor) accepting captainship in 1935, which he resigned the following year after acceding to the throne. Two Dukes of York have also been conferred honorary membership, the first awarded to the eventual King George VI on 1929, who later awarded the Society his sovereign patronage, and the latter the current incumbent, who became a member in March 1991.

Mortonhall [19th]

Duddingston [20th]

Ratho Park [21st]

Bruntsfield Links [23rd]: The modern full-fledged Bruntsfield Links Golf Course can be found at Barnton, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, but the original site near Edinburgh Castle is still used today and is the oldest short-hole golf course in the world, established in 1890. The old course has been used for golf since the 15th century, and it was here that The Bruntsfield Links Golf Society, the fourth-oldest golf club in the world, played after their formation in 1761, when the Links comprised only 5 holes. With the rising popularity of golf, the Links became crowded by the mid-19th century, and as a result, the Society moved to Musselburgh in 1876. A decade later, they erected a clubhouse there, beside those of the other historic golf clubs, specifically the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the Edinburgh Burgess, and Royal Musselburgh. They encountered similar problems here, however, and like Edinburgh Burgess, sought their own course at Barnton, the site of the modern Links. Today’s course is therefore not a links but parkland, and has undergone 3 reconstructions since it was designed by Willie Park Jnr. in 1898. It has hosted a series of championships and gained a nomination as a Regional Qualifying Course for the 2011-2015 Open Championships, which Park Jnr. himself is most famous for having twice won. Bruntsfield Links’s clubhouse was completed in 1899, and similarly has been extended. Its catering provisions, and views of the course and Firth of Forth to Fife beyond, are renowned in the region.


Editorial choices [Gem rankings]

Braid Hills

Baberton: The maiden site for the use of steel shafted clubs, Baberton’s clubhouse showcases the original equipment and patents created by the local blacksmith.


Farther afield: The Ryder Cup

As another in the series of exciting events that Scotland has played host to in this Year of Homecoming, the most prestigious event in golf is to be held at Gleneagles, in Perthshire, from the 22nd of this month. The biennial Ryder Cup sees teams from Europe and the United States compete on venues across each territory. The Gleneagles Hotel is reserved for players and officials of the Cup, so the public are advised to stay elsewhere during the event. For the full FAQ, see here.



Leith Rules Golf Society pamphlet









What’s on in Edinburgh: July

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival (5, 6 & 18-27 July)

The UK’s largest and longest-running Jazz & Blues festival returns for its 36th year, with international musicians gathering for over 140 gigs across 13 venues. The preliminary weekend will see a Carnival Workshop hosted at Summerhall between 10am and 5pm on 5th and 6th July (for ages 16 and over; tickets £15), during which The Bahamas’ ‘Junkanoo Commandos’ will guide ticketholders as they try their hands at the drums and cowbells, learn Bahamian dance moves, and create their own Junkanoo costumes. A Carnival Party will be held on the Saturday night, where the Commandos will be accompanied by the Backyard Rhythm Orchestra, Anansi drummers, and circus acts for a series of performances between 9pm and 1am (tickets including the party are £25, and are for ages 18 and over).

The festival begins in earnest on Mandela Day (18th July) with a tribute concert featuring 3 of South Africa’s most famous musical acts, specifically pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, who played at Mandela’s inauguration, Freshlyground, the band who sang alongside Shakira on the official 2010 World Cup anthem, and the Mahotella Queens singing group. Later highlights include the free Mardi Gras at 1pm on Saturday 19th July, during which a number of bands will play Swing, Dixieland, Boogie, Blues and New Orleans jazz on stages across the Grassmarket. The Edinburgh Festival Carnival, a further free event on the following day, will see the Commandos return among a parade descending from The Mound to west Princes Street at 2pm, after which over 500 performers from around the world will unite for displays of music, dance, acrobatics and puppetry in Princes Street Gardens and The Grassmarket.

A range of concerts, talks, jam sessions, and music classes will also feature in the broader festival. For details on the high-profile performers confirmed for the festival and to buy tickets, head over to the official website.

Sources:  http://www.edinburghjazzfestival.com/





Scottish Real Ale Festival (10-13 July)

This CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) volunteer-run festival will be held at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange from 12 noon to 11pm on the above dates, except on Sunday, when it will close at 4.30pm (supplies allowing). In keeping with the host organisation’s name and purpose, all beers available at the festival will be ‘real ale’, meaning they’ll contain live yeast and will be secondarily fermented in the casks from which they’re served. The entry fee of £6 (£4 for CAMRA members) includes a pint or half-pint glass, to be used at the bar and taken away as a souvenir. The glass also allows attendees free re-entry to the festival. Programmes will be issued upon entry detailing the available beers and providing information on CAMRA in Scotland.

A cash bar will be in operation on the premises; prices can be found here.


Edinburgh International Fashion Festival (17-25 July)

This week-long festival returns for its third edition, celebrating the best of local and international talent with a series of catwalks, exhibitions, gala parties and talks in attractive venues across the city.

The programme of events has yet to be finalised at the time of writing this blog, so please keep tabs on the festival’s website for updates.


BBC One Concert at Edinburgh Castle (19 July)

This concert is to be shown on BBC One prior to the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Presented by The One Show’s Alex Jones, the stellar roster of performers includes Jessie J, The Kaiser Chiefs, Culture Club, Smokey Robinson, Rizzle Kicks, Paloma Faith, Katherine Jenkins, II Divo, OneRepublic, Alfie Boe, Ella Henderson and Pumeza, with Bill Bailey and Fred MacAulay providing comic relief. Some performances will be supported by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and a house band.

The event will be held at the outdoor Edinburgh Castle Esplanade from 7pm. Tickets cost £61 plus delivery from Ticketmaster.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/5T6twKGNsC208FLNV6K38Nq/edinburgh-castle-hosts-a-live-concert-for-bbc-one-this-summer


Commonwealth Games Diving Competition in Edinburgh (30 July – 2 August)

Establishing a world record for holding a Commonwealth Games event 3 times, Edinburgh is to host Glasgow’s 2014 Diving Competition in its recently-refurbished Royal Commonwealth Pool, the same venue which featured the Aquatics events of the 1970 and 1986 Games. The 4-day event will see world-class athletes of both sexes compete in individual events using the 1-metre platform, while the 3- and 10-metre platforms will also be used for synchronised diving.

Tickets to the diving are currently unavailable, but the organisers advise that you check back to their website regularly as they may be able to offer more tickets closer to the event.


Edinburgh Art Festival (31 July – 31 August)

The UK’s largest celebration of visual art, this festival brings together the work of the best Scottish and international artists from both contemporary and historical periods. It spans the city’s most prestigious galleries, museums, and artist-run spaces, and attracts over a quarter of a million visitors each year. Owing to the support and sponsorship of a range of funders, most of the festival is free.

This year’s commissioned projects will emphasise the current social and political juncture represented by Scotland’s independence referendum in September, encouraging a dialogue on national memories and future possibilities. Events running throughout the festival include over 45 exhibitions across the various venues, as well as performances, screenings, artist talks, and guided tours; the full programme is due to be uploaded to the festival’s website soon.


This concludes the roundup of the main events commencing in July in Edinburgh. Stay tuned to this blog for summaries of subsequent months, as well as entries on Scottish traditions and culture. Finally, by following our social media channels, you’ll gain additional coverage of the events mentioned above and more besides.

What’s on in Edinburgh: June Part 1 (events beginning up until the 14th)

Queen's Baton Relay logo 2014

To give you a heads-up on all that’s happening in Edinburgh, we’re commencing a new blog series outlining the main events occurring in the city each month. June’s busy schedule has a predominant film focus, but there’s a lot more going on besides: read on for an overview of ongoing and forthcoming events along with details of how to get involved. Part 2 will follow shortly with key dates for your calendar up until the end of June.


6 – 15 (& 21) June: Edinburgh Short Film Festival

Run by filmmakers and volunteers with a shared passion, this festival showcases both international and local short film-making in a variety of venues throughout the city.

Events run from 7.30-9.30pm, with the exception of the supplementary ‘Reels on Wheels’ event at Cameo Cinema, scheduled for the 21st between 1.30pm and 3.30pm. Tickets can be purchased online here, and are also available at the venue doors, which open at 7pm.


12 – 22 June: Edinburgh Festival of Cycling

Building on the success of last year’s inaugural festival, this one takes place over 10 days and includes rides, family activities, and events centred upon bike culture. All proceeds go to Edinburgh-based cycling organisations of the organisers’ choosing. An event calendar can be found here.


13 – 14 June: Queen’s Baton Relay in Edinburgh

Following its global tour, the Queen’s Baton is to make its first Scottish touch-down in Edinburgh ahead of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. It will be carried by over 100 bearers who have been nominated for contributions to sport, community and youth projects after it arrives on Saturday the 14th.

Celebrations have been arranged to welcome the Baton to Edinburgh, including a dedicated tram journey to transport it from Murrayfield to the city centre and a 21-gun salute from Edinburgh Castle, which is scheduled for noon and will double-up to mark the Queen’s official birthday celebrations.

A range of public activities have also been organised around the event. Foremost is an ‘Edinburgh Raises the Baton’ Gala Classical Concert on Friday 13th June at the Usher Hall; tickets are available from the box office and website. A 2.2km School Run will take place between 12.45-1.45pm on Saturday the 14th, where 3000 school children will carry the Baton from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to Meadowbank Stadium. The latter will also be the venue for the Tryathon, a free event beginning at 10.30am on the same day, which will allow visitors to try 14 Commonwealth Games sports. They’ll also be able to watch the Baton lap the grounds, as well as see Commonwealth Games artefacts, including the 1970 and 1986 Batons. Additionally, a Scotmid Taste of Scotland food hall will be exhibiting the best of local produce.

A community concert in West Princes Street Gardens is to round off the celebrations in the evening (between 5.30pm and 7.30pm; doors open an hour beforehand). The concert will involve dance, music, and guest appearances from sports stars, culminating in the arrival of the Baton itself, which will be produced for BBC Scotland broadcast. The concert is free but ticketed; tickets can be ordered online here, as well as from the Usher Hall Box Office.


13 – 22 June: Film in the City

Heralding the Edinburgh International Film Festival later in the month is this series of film events across the city. This weekend will see filmgoers gather for outdoor screenings of classics and recent hits in St Andrew Square, with the venue changing next weekend to Festival Square for a series of movie-inspired events, including Q&As and animation workshops. Entry is free, and further programme details can be found here.


14 – 15 June: Tough Mudder

This event challenges entrants to complete a treacherous course steeped in mud. In this case, participants will need to cover 11-12 miles of farmland, forest, river, hills and estate laden with thick, dark soil. As if that weren’t enough, mudders will also encounter a series of obstacles engineered to challenge their teamwork skills, physical abilities and endurance.

Final Entry tickets are still available, and include a branded T-shirt and headband, as well as a congratulatory beer for after the course. An onsite after-party will also be hosted on the Saturday night. Spectator tickets are available to purchase online until midnight this Friday, but can be bought at double the online rate onsite. All event ticket types can be found on this page.


14 – 22 June: Leith Festival

Leith is located roughly within a mile of the Kirkgate, but this community festival draws upon the area’s talent base to entertain both locals and visitors. Performing artists of every ilk are drafted in for a series of events, highlights of which include the festival’s opening ceremony, the Leith Pageant, the Gala Day (also on the 14th), and the closing ceremony, the Leith Festival Tattoo. The full programme, including prices for the various events, is accessible here.

Edible Garden

Find out some extra uses for that patch of grass you have at home or the empty window box on your windowsill at the Edinburgh Botanic Garden this weekend.

Edible Garden at the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens


August may be over but that doesnt mean the end for the festivals in Edinburgh, EDINDOCS is a long weekend documentary film festival starting towards the end of October.



Edinburgh Colleges’ Festival

Te first ever Edinburgh Colleges’ Festival, the largest student-led Further Education event in the UK.
The Festival will demonstrate the imaginative and exciting work of students and also celebrate their academic achievements over the past year.

This has been organised through the combined effort of Edinburgh’s Telford College, Jewel & Esk College and Stevenson College Edinburgh.

Event guide: here