Guides

Nightlife & Entertainment in Edinburgh

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Edinburgh takes on a different character at night, with landmarks illuminated prettily under the stars. Pubs and clubs glow too, thronging with locals and tourists alike. Live performance is a key element of any Edinburgh night out, whether you opt for a classical show, stand-up comedy, or local bands in small pubs.

 

Live music

 

In a city famed for its live performance, you can bet your bottom dollar that its music scene is sizzling hot. From huge, theatrical shows, to locals playing open-mic nights in tiny, hidden-away bars, every musical genre is catered for.

 

Whistlebinkies

 

With live music 7 nights a week, and up to 6 acts a night, Whistlebinkies is a solid choice for eclectic music tastes. It’s a relaxed, unpretentious den, where musicians mingle with spectators, and the beer flows freely as the sets segue from rock to country to blues.

 

4-6 South Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1LL. Tel: +44 131 557 5114

 

Whistlebinkies website

 

Whisky bars

 

A visit to a good auld whisky bar is an essential Edinburgh experience. Whether for a wee dram before catching a performance in festival season, or for a serious tasting session, whisky is this city’s tipple of choice. Bars range from slick and commercial to local and grungy, all offering endless whiskies and encyclopedic knowledge.

 

Whiski Bar

 

With a name that needs no explanation, Whiski is the big daddy of Edinburgh’s whisky scene. Located right on the Royal Mile, its wooden walls are crammed with bottles – 270 different malts in total. Some of the best cult products are kept for those in the know, so ask about the rare varieties.

 

119 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SG. Tel: +44 131 556 3095

 

Whiski Bar website

 

Bannerman’s

 

While most whisky bars offer a rustic atmosphere, where Scottish folk music is right at home, Bannerman’s is an altogether different breed. Hidden away in a vaulted cavern, hard rock music and a young, cool crowd gives this place a grungy edge. But it’s still a serious whisky bar, with 100 different types to try.

 

202 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1NQ. Tel: +44 131 556 3254

 

Bannerman’s website

 

Comedy clubs

 

For many, Edinburgh is synonymous with comedy. The Fringe is traditionally the festival where many comedy stars first make their names, and hundreds of hopefuls hit the theatres and clubs each year to give it a try. There are also dedicated, year-round comedy venues, attracting both amateur performers and big names.

 

The Stand

 

This small, intimate venue at the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town has the perfect mix of celebrity shows and open-mic nights. It’s a key festival venue, opening late to accommodate the acts and crowds, but its energy levels remain high all year, and it usually offers 4 sets a night.

 

5 York Place, Edinburgh EH1 3EB. Tel: +44 131 558 7272

 

The Stand website

 

Nightclubs

 

Though you can get away with a pair of ripped jeans and a t-shirt in many of Edinburgh’s bars and taverns, this elegant city will make you want to get dressed up and go glam at least once during your stay. That’s the time to hit one of the upmarket clubs and dance the night away.

 

Lulu

 

With an 80s-style lit-up dance floor and a plush lounge area suffused with rosy light, Lulu is a chic central place to party. You can take it easy, relaxing with elegant cocktails between dances, and it attracts a well-dressed, mostly professional, crowd – although students do hit the bar come the weekends. Arrive earlier for cheaper entry.

 

125b George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4JN. Tel: +44 131 225 5005

 

Lulu website