Category Archives: Edinburgh Bars/Music/Nightlife

What’s New In Edinburgh

If you’re looking for something new in Edinburgh here are a few of the most recent additions to the city to tempt your senses on your vacation.


New Edinburgh Venue 

The Annexe – What makes this such a trendy and popular new venue is the big smoking garden. The night club is attached to The Liquid Room and partiers tend to move from one venue to the other.

New Edinburgh Café

Loudons – If you’re looking for class and quality then this is the café for you. Located at 94B Fountainbridge it is best known for the artisan bakery, breakfasts, special selection of tea and excellent coffee. The café has been mentioned in the Guardian newspaper. The café and bakery also makes gluten free and dairy free goods and can cater to those with allergies and intolerances.

Café on the Corner – This is a community café and part of the Autism Initiative charity. The café at 24A Hill Street is reasonably priced and has a selection of sandwiches, salads, small meals, cakes and drinks. Adults with autism are offered the opportunity here to learn new skills in a real work environment.

Café Republic – Situated in Gyle Shopping Centre it is aimed at families with kids and babies. There is easy access for prams, helpful staff and food to suit all members of the family big and small. All the baked goods are made fresh every morning on the premises. The coffee has won several awards.

New Edinburgh Restaurant

Field – Gordon Craig and Richard Conway formerly of the Michelin starred Plumed Horse have opened their own establishment in Newington where the Home Bistro used to be. The restaurant serves fine cuisine in a bistro environment.

The Panty – Situated in Stockbridge this restaurant serves a range of dishes at reasonable prices from breakfast to dinner. It is a farm shop and kitchen, the food is fresh, locally sourced, seasonal and delicious. The shop/restaurant aims to bring authentic Scottish cuisine from the rural areas into the city. You can buy their products and take them home or eat on the premises.

New Edinburgh Attraction

Gallery TEN – Opened in November 2012 this West End gallery specializes in prints and studio glass, there are works by studio glass makers and guest artists. The gallery is run by Paul Musgrove and Gill Tyson who aim to promote contemporary emerging talented artists.

Britain from the Air – A free outdoor street gallery with 100 huge photo images of aerial views of Britain. The photos were taken by the country’s top photographers. This exhibit is so new it will be open from 22nd March to 20 May 2013.

New Edinburgh Hotel

B+B Edinburgh – Open for under a year this is a 22 room hotel in an elegant historic building on Rothesay Terrace. The hotel has wood paneling, period furniture and a view of the Drumsheugh Gardens.

Top 3 Late Night Edinburgh Festival Haunts

Some people may think that spending a full day out at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe would merit a quiet night in to recover. Those people would be wrong. This world-famous festival does not rest, but stomps on relentlessly into the wee hours mercilessly taking revellers along for the ride.

Here is a compilation of the best nocturnal hangouts, should you find yourself hungry for entertainment late into the night.

Just when you thought you were safe to go to bed, think again…

The Underbelly

56 Cowgate, Edinburgh, EH1 1EG

The Underbelly is a labyrinth of bars and chambers snaking underneath the streets of Edinburgh’s old town. You will find performances running throughout the day, but it is the nocturnal activity that really stands out.

Straight up from London’s Old Vic Tunnels, The Boom Boom Club (12:30am – 4am, £13.50) perform an eclectic mix of Cabaret, comedy and live music over three rooms at the Underbelly. Living up to their name, this dance and cabaret troupe really knows how to get the crowd going. The band plays a vintage mash of rockabilly and jazz as cabaret star Dusty Limits takes centre stage. Guest appearances from big names at the Fringe also add to the versatility of the show (the likes of Frisky and Mannish and the Boy with Tape on his Face have featured).

You must go and explore this sprawling venue for yourself – just make sure to remember where the exit is, as the maze of underground tunnels might just get the better of you…

The Jekyll and Hyde

112 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1DR

The Jekyll and Hyde is an Edinburgh institution, from the faux-gothic interior to the hidden toilet facilities (hint: check the book case) and eerie sound effects. However, this Edinburgh pub really comes into its own over Festival time, with free comedy performances throughout the day and well into the evening.

One show in particular worth checking out is An Audience with Tomás Ford (11:50pm – 12:50am, free). This cabaret-style act fuses electro music, comedy and dance as Ford takes you through his hilarious performance, concluding with him crowd surfing across the audience. This is no mean feat, considering the room holds around 20 people at most. It’s an intimate way to enjoy Ford’s electro music style and he has bags of energy and talent, having performed with Gary Numan and The Presets in the past.

Whether you see a comedian or cabaret show here, there is something for everybody. And as a free Fringe venue, the Jekyll and Hyde is a great place to give your wallet a well-earned break.

The Udderbelly’s Pasture

Bristo Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9AL


Not to be confused with the Underbelly, Udderbelly’s Pasture is somewhat more noticeable to the naked eye. Manifesting itself in the shape of a giant purple cow, legs (and udder) akimbo, the Udderbelly stage is a unique sight to behold.

Leading out from the Udderbelly stage is the Udderbelly’s Pasture, where you will find two al fresco bars. This is a great, chilled out space to grab a pre-show drink. And the Pasture remains open into the wee small hours, culminating in a mix of festival-goers and performers alike.

This really is the hub of the Fringe and it is certainly where the party is at. There are various other venues close by (Assembly George Square (George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LS) and The Gilded Balloon (Teviot Row, Edinburgh, EH8 9LS)), so this area has a lively atmosphere.

And who knows – you may even bump into your favourite comedian or actor, fresh from performing at the world’s biggest arts festival.


The Best of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival’s Free Comedy

Comedy shows make up around one third of all performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year, so it’s no wonder there are hundreds of free comedy shows in the push to get audiences through the door. With a lot of comedians using the Fringe to test-drive their material, how can you make sure you end up going to a genuinely funny show?

Well, I have done the dirty work for you. I have sat through the good, the bad and (occasionally) the downright terrible. So without further ado, here are my top picks of the free comedy crop.

Alan Sharp – Careful What You Wish For

(Banshee Labyrinth, 35 Niddry Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1LG – 9:45pm)

alan sharp

“I was in a band which we called The Prevention, because we hoped people would say we were better than The Cure.”

This was the joke that won comedian Alan Sharp the 7th funniest joke of the Fringe 2011, in a poll conducted by television channel Dave. But would Sharp be able to live up to this title in 2012? With his stand-up show ‘Careful What You Wish For’, he certainly manages to get the audience chuckling.

The under-ground chamber room at Banshee Labyrinth is an ideal setting for this heavy metal fan, and he is right at home on front of a diverse crowd. He takes the audience on a journey through his childhood, telling us of his religious fanatic mother, and his quest to be better than his brother.

This is a funny, easy-going show is well worth checking out. And who knows, maybe one of his new jokes will get to number six in this year’s poll?

Danny O’Brien – All My Friends

(Bar 50, 50 Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1NE – 9pm)

Danny O’Brien has been a big hit on the Irish comedy circuit and it’s easy to see why. His barrage of nostalgic anecdotes had the audience in fits of laughter as we found ourselves relating to the stories he told.

The particular show I went to had a group of young South African travellers in the front row, and this became a focal point for O’Brien. Barely out of their teens, these youngsters became part of his show as he improvised his jokes around them. Improvisation can often be hit or miss, but O’Brien really hits the mark.

The material O’Brien uses is current and fresh but be warned – it is not for the easily offended. As with most Irish comedians, he is partial to an expletive or two. This aside, O’Brien takes the audience on a journey and as the title of his show suggests, you feel a lot friendlier with him by the end.

Funny Miss London

(Banshee Labyrinth, 11pm)

miss london

Hailing from East London, Miss Dionne ‘London’ Hughes has brought her own blend of self-depreciating comedy to the Edinburgh Fringe. This lady is certainly not afraid to poke fun at herself and her earlier years, and she really makes an impact doing so.

Starting her showbiz career as a children’s television presenter, Miss London reminisces back to this time and the twists and turns in her career since then. Having won the Funny Women award in 2009, she has continued to grow her comedy style, doing impressions of her family and friends and often slipping into an Afro-Caribbean drawl.

This little lady has bags of energy and really gets the room going. It’s hard not to be drawn into her world as her personality is ferocious. It has been said that this comedienne is going places, so get to her free show – before you have to pay for the privilege.

The Top Three Scottish Music Festivals

Mention Scottish music and the sound of bagpipes and Highland fiddles will spring to most people’s minds. Look a little deeper, however, and you will find that Scotland has a whole host of contemporary bands from over the decades. From Bay City Rollers and The Average White Band back in the 1970s, to Primal Scream and Franz Ferdinand from a more recent era, Scotland has produced some great popular music.

Like a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, music and festivals go perfectly together. And when it comes to music festivals, Scotland certainly knows how to put on a show. Here are the top three Scottish music festivals, to cover all musical tastes.

RockNess Festival (Clune Farm, Dores, Loch Ness)

Overlooking the stunning banks of Loch Ness, RockNess Festival was created when Norman Cook a.k.a. Fatboy Slim took his Brighton Beach Party here in June 2006. Since then, the Festival has grown to a capacity of some 35,000 revellers.

Slightly smaller than Scotland’s largest music festival T in the Park (Balado Airfield, Balado, Kinross-shire) , RockNess is famous for house and dance music – with a bit of rock thrown in for good measure. Dance acts such as Basement Jaxx, Prodigy, Mylo and Chemical Brothers have graced the dance tents. And for the rock fans, Razorlight, The Flaming Lips and Kasabian have played on the main stage on the banks of Loch Ness.

RockNess is often known as ‘the most beautiful festival in the world’ due to the stunning setting in the Highlands of Scotland. And you may even catch a glimpse of the infamous Nessie – where else would you get the chance to see a legendary monster whilst rocking out?

This festival is really worth the trip up north, accessible through driving up the A9 to Inverness, or simply hopping on one of the specially organised coaches running to the festival site from either Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Wickerman Festival (East Kirkcarswell Farm, near Dundrennan, South West Scotland)

This alternative music festival was born through the local area’s links to scenes filmed for the 1970’s cult classic movie The Wicker Man, starring Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward.

This festival has been likened to the world famous Glastonbury due to its musical versatility. The eclectic mix means every musical taste is catered for – you will find a punk and ska tent, reggae acts, DJ, acoustic and grassroots performances along with the more main stream acts found on the main stage.

Wickerman has always maintained focus on Scottish acts, with the likes of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, KT Tunstall and Teenage Fanclub having performed over the 11 year history. Alongside these home-grown performances, the Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Feeder and the Scissor Sisters have also graced the main stage.
This festival is a really unique experience and welcomes all age groups and families alike. Along with the versatile musical line-up, Wickerman also has a vast entertainment line-up including comedy performances, poetry and the spoken word, music and dance workshops and wood carving demonstrations. With around 13,000 attending the festival, there really is something for everybody – children and adults alike.

And to top it all off, there is the famous burning of the wicker man (pictured) to end the festival proceedings. The festival site is close to Glasgow, and for those further afield there are buses running from Edinburgh, too.

Eden Festival (Raehills Meadows, St Anns, near Moffat, Dumfries and Galloway)

With a capacity of around 2000, Eden is the smallest festival in this selection. However, don’t let the size sway your opinion – this mini fest really packs a punch. With an other-worldly atmosphere, you will find yourself bumping into pixies and fairies, along with stilt-walkers, fire throwers and other performers.

Eden has an eclectic mix of folk and world music, with a total of eight stages and tents set up to house the unique music styles. If you love discovering interesting new music, this festival is for you. And there are slightly more mainstream bands playing on the main stage – the likes of the Levellers and Gomez have played over the years.

Eden describes itself as “a three-day celebration of music, dance, colour, culture and community built on ecologically sound and a carbon-friendly set of principles”. It is more than just music holding this festival together. There are stalls displaying traditional fares and workshops on nature awareness and forestry skills. You will find something unique around every corner – this festival has to be seen to be believed.

Eden Fest is over an hours’ drive from Glasgow or Edinburgh, going towards Dumfries in the Scottish Borders. There are bus and train links but no specially-run festival coaches, so if you are using public transport be prepared to walk a short distance to the festival site.

The Top 5 Underrated Pubs in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is crammed full of drinking troughs and watering holes, from old world pubs to trendy cocktail bars and tourist-oriented whiskey joints. With so many places to re-hydrate on offer, you can miss out on the good ones, especially if you only have a limited amount of time to soak up the city! (Or to get soaked-up in the city!)

To help out the short-of-time visitor, I’ve compiled a short collection of my favourite less know, off the track, or under-appreciated pub and drinking dens in town!

Victoria – Leith Walk

Walking into Victoria, you feel like you may have taken a wrong turn into a Continental Cafe. Little iron tables are littered around the bar, complete with flowers and candles. The bar has lots of pretty little things hidden around it, from arty postcards to delicate prints. What makes the bar especially unique is the enthusiasm of its owners and managers. They always have events organized, from ‘Language Cafe’ on Monday evenings, to live music performances most weekends.

Their tour de force is the cider that they sell, made in Sweden by the owners. ‘Iduns’ cider comes in Pear, Elderflower and Lingonberry flavours. Each is exceptional, with my personal favourite being the refreshing and different Elderflower.

The Cuckoo’s Nest -Tollcross

Due to its’ proximity to Edinburgh University and The Meadows, the Cuckoos Nest is a popular haunt for students. The crowd tends to be young and cool, but not too self consciously so. The pub feels a bit like an extension of your living room, if your living room is both homely and bang on trend that is!

The bar itself is small, but with a well thought out selection of drinks available, from Caledonian Bitter to French Martinis everyone should be happy. The music selection has never let me down, and depending on the day of the week and time of day the volume is somewhere between pleasant background noise and house-party!

If peckish I would certainly recommend one of their (massive!) burgers, or their dish of the day, which could a humble, but tasty risotto, or a selection of continental sausages in a rich sauce.

The Earl of Marchmont – Marchmont

This one-roomed, family owned pub is exactly what I want in a local. A small, but well thought out menu, interesting beers on tap (including Leffe- my favourite!), jazzy music, and a laid back clientele. It’s quite likely that the owners dog with come over for a visit, and you may end up having a debate with some of the locals by the bar or the staff, but this is part of the charm of the Earl, you always feel part of the party and completely welcome! The walls are have been donned with interesting art and the neighbouring shops are a perfect prelude to a little drinkie.

The Old Bell – Newington

From the outside you may mistake The Old Bell as just another one of Edinburgh’s many old-man-pubs, but once you’re in and settled with your pint you’ll soon realise just how wrong you are. The Old Bell is in many ways an old fashioned pub. It’s decor consists a lot of dark wood, leather and old bells, but the music is lively, atmosphere is in abundance and the clientele is extremely varied and create a welcoming buzz. It’s hard to pin down what it is exactly about The Old Bell which makes it such a warm, comfortable drinking hole. It could be the friendly faces who work there, or the huge selection of beers on tap, but it is the perfect place to unwind after a long day at work- or a long day of exploring the city!

The RoseLeaf – Leith

My all time favourite place to have a drink in town! The Roseleaf is a pub/cafe/restaurant hidden away in deepest Leith between waterside flats and industrial buildings. It is very off the beaten track but well worth the trek to get to it. They have a fresh, vibrant and original menu, which is very reasonably priced!

The decor may remind you of Granny’s cottage, but with modern twists and a funky soundtrack. A brilliant place for a girly night out, or for a quiet lunch or morning coffee. It absolutely oozes character.
I think it may be time to organize a pub crawl!

Top shabby chic hangouts in Edinburgh

Leith Walk, located in the Leith district of Edinburgh, is well known for its eclectic mix of world food shops, eateries and quirky cafes. Take a stroll down and you’ll find somewhere new and interesting every time. With a lot of Edinburgh’s bars striving to create an up-market and sophisticated look, I find it increasingly difficult to find someone comfortable to hang out with friends. However, a Swedish couple has setup shop on Leith Walk with four fabulous “shabby chic” hangouts which are the perfect way to get a local flavour of this Scottish City.


The Jogging Club

You can begin with the Joseph Pearce – a.k.a. JP’s – (23 Elm Row, Edinburgh, EH7 4AA) at the top of Leith Walk, followed by Boda Bar (229 Leith Walk Edinburgh EH6 8NY) and Victoria’s (265 Leith Walk, Edinburgh, EH6 8PD) half way down, and finishing with Sofi’s (65 Henderson Street, Edinburgh, EH6 6ED) at the bottom, close to Leith docks.

The owners have used the proximity of their bars to their advantage, creating what they call the Joseph Pearce Jogging Club. The route begins at JP’s, goes down to Sofi’s and back up again. Who’d have thought a bar would set up a jogging club? It may be a strange concept, but it helps to connect the different bars and create a community for its customers. Also adding to this sense of community are the various ‘Neighbourhood Parties’ which encourage local people to get together.

There are also bake clubs, knitting clubs and film clubs at Sofi’s – a great way to do something different and meet new people. And there are various vintage pop-up shops and art exhibitions that appear throughout these unique establishments, adding to the comfortable, shabby-chic vibe.

Edinburgh’s Art School even had their finishing party at Victoria’s – and what better setting for these budding artists than an eclectic bar adorned with colourful fairy lights and burning incense sticks. This is Edinburgh’s bohemia at its very best.



The newest bar in this Swedish collection is Hemma (75 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AE). Although set away from its sister bars in Leith, this place adheres to the same quirky atmosphere in a slightly more contemporary setting (it is a modern, glass building which gives the impression that you are in a large fish bowl, swimming and interacting with all the other fishies). The name ‘Hemma’ means ‘at home’ in Swedish, and you are certainly made to feel this by the welcoming bar staff.

When I first went to this bar it was the night of the Sweden – England game, so there was a great sporting atmosphere that can only be found when a closely – matched game is played. The Swedish and English fans were equally matched and there were equal roars as each team scored. There was no animosity between fans, though; the relaxed setting and comfy vintage furniture meant that this was more like a bunch of friends watching the footy in their living room.


These shabby-chic bars have really got it right. They have created a home-from-home for their customers, ensuring people want to return time and time again. The homely vibe is bang-on, right down to the homemade chocolate brownie cupcakes spread invitingly on the bar.


Your Comprehensive Guide to Wine Tasting in Edinburgh

 If you’ve had enough of Scotch whiskey and want something a little more sophisticated, then how about wine?  No, Scotland is not a world famous wine producing region, but  where better to relax with a glass of something delicious than in the medieval ambiance of Edinburgh?

While most restaurants and pubs have decent wine on offer, below is a round up of the best Edinburgh wine shops and wine bars with tasting nights, as well as some tips on wine tasting classes.  Let your wine tasting Edinburgh experience begin…

wine tasting edinburgh

Edinburgh Wine Shops That do Tastings

The Great Grog Company holds wine tasting events called “Grog Tasting” these cost £16 which gets you a money-back-voucher to purchase from the store. For a more in-depth look at wine join a Tutored Grog, tasting 10 wines in an hour together with food and an informative talk. For £16 you can also visit the Edinburgh Spring Wine Fair, South African Wine Fair or the Christmas Wine Fair held by the Great Grog in the Merchant’s Hall and other locations.  

Majestic Wines has a branch in Comiston Road, Causewayside, Queensferry Road and Leith Walk they are large stores selling a selection of all kind of alcohol, the stores provide many services besides selling wine. They advertize “wine open to taste in all stores, all day, every day.” They also offer a wine course which is 90 minutes long; Wine Walks around the store tasting various wines and teaching about them as you go and Wine Evenings where you learn about the latest labels in a casual atmosphere and also nibble on some snacks.

Appellation Wines holds weekly wine tastings; the store holds 350 wines from across the world. The tastings cost approximately £10 and focus on specific themes or regions.

Edinburgh Wine Bars and Venues That Offer Wine Tasting Nights

Hotel du Vin gives wine tastings and wine dinners as well as hosting wine tasting weekends where the price includes accommodation in the hotel.

Calistoga Restaurants offers wine tasting dinners in their tasting room. A 40 minute “course” costs £31 including a 3 course dinner and there are other combinations of this deal. There are Friday afternoon tastings where you get to meet the wine makers for an hour (cost £15) and Wine Wednesdays are also a feature.

Thrity Fifty is a company which organizes wine tasting events at a number of venues including the Browns Brasserie restaurant, Malmaison Edinburgh Hotel and the Voodoo Rooms Bar. The company also organizes wine weekends where a one day course cost about £80 and 2 days including accommodation, meals and wine tasting costs about £130. The evening wine tastings cost about £30 and 16-24 people usually attend.

The Royal Scots Club hosts the Wine Experience in Edinburgh where you can learn about the various wines and taste them too. The same company runs a Chocolate and Wine Tasting Experience and a Spanish or Italian Wine Experience for £39.

Wine Tasting Classes

As you can see from this article many of the wine stores also run mini-courses in wine tasting but there is also the Edinburgh Wine School. This is professionally run as a course called “Wine in the City” during the Fringe Theatre Festival and there is also a Saturday Wine School. The Saturday school course uses wines from the wine cellars of Locanda de Gusti on East London Street, Edinburgh. The course includes learning to match food to the right wine and the £85 fee covers tuition, wine and lunch. You will learn about grape varieties, champagne and sparkling wine, fortified wine, wine styles and tasting techniques.

Specialty Brews at Brewdog

If you’re growing weary of hopping from pub to pub in Edinburgh – drinking the same old lagers and ales that are served in every city throughout the world – perhaps it’s time that you step outside of your comfort zone and try something a little more alternative.

Winding underneath South Bridge, Cowgate Street is home to the city’s premier craft beer bar: BrewDog. The young Scottish brewery company, which are based in Aberdeenshire, pride themselves in making the most innovative, progressive and creative beers in the world – and a quick sip of most any of their beers will immediate confirm the Scots’ creativity.

The pub itself screams alternative – the décor is somewhat of a mad scientist’s laboratory drenched in assorted beer memorabilia, and prides itself on not owning any televisions (with the exception of a single twenty-two inch mounted near the ceiling, which only plays a series of subliminally-induced images of pints of ale). Admittedly, there isn’t a lot of seating in the pub – the tiny room can becomes uncomfortably packed after 9pm; however, unlike most pubs, the BrewDog experience isn’t necessarily supposed to be a social one.

Regardless of how loud and crowded the pub may become, the friendly bar staff is always more than happy to share with you the secrets and flavour intentions of each drink. Favourites range from the ‘Trashy Blonde,’ to the ‘5am Saint’ to the ‘Paradox Smokehead.’ Yet the main attraction for many visitors is what is claimed to be the one of the world’s strongest beers: Brewdog’s ‘Tactical Nuclear Penguin.’

Making a Nuclear Penguin

Double barrel aged for over a year, the brewers ensure that the brew then matures in a series of deep, oak whisky casks. The journey to the pub doesn’t end there, however. After this intense series of maturing, the ‘Tactical Nuclear Penguin’ is then frozen three times. The bar staff will joke that the drink should only be served in ‘small servings and with an air of aristocratic nonchalance,’ yet the 32% ABV level ensures a very serious kick – in fact, a much more aggressive more of a kick than many Scottish whiskeys. Although it can be bought by the bottle, it is recommended that you only enjoy it by the shotglass.

A recent series of back-and fourths have created a fierce competition between German Brewers and BrewDog for the world’s strongest beer, and as a result BrewDog has recently announced their most recent project: the 41% ABV ‘Sink the Bismarck.’ Containing four times the hops, bitterness and coldness, the brew will no doubt be a force to be reckoned with. In the meantime, however, the BrewDog craft brewery has plenty of more taste-oriented and ‘user-friendly’ brews that emanate from the team’s creative roots.

Plenty of Beers to Try

The pub’s regular imperial stout, ‘Tokyo,’ is akin to bottled excess, while BrewDog’s locally famous ’77 lager’ boasts absolutely no ingredients other than malt and whole- leaf hops. A series of strong IPA’s of varying flavours make up the remainder of the pub’s typical line-up; however, the real delight in visiting BrewDog’s bar in Edinburgh is to take part in the company’s travelling drink experiments. Weekly specials vary drastically at the pub – ranging from ultra-sour beers, to chocolate- inspired brews to fruit lagers.

The BrewDog team isn’t afraid to try anything and everything, and in a world full of  conglomerate beers, it’s definitely refreshing to find new and alternative takes on old brews. The brand is constantly expanding, and is available for sale most everywhere in the UK and abroad; however, the flavours of BrewDog’s specialty brews truly do come out whilst in one of their specialty craft-beer bars. The pub is a must-visit for any in search of something that is truly different.

The Top 7 Nightclubs in Edinburgh: One for Every Day of the Week

Edinburgh may be small as far as cosmopolitan capital cities go but itʼs hardly short on things to do after dark. With plenty of clubs to suit each personality that might come through, many of them open every night of the week, itʼs difficult not to find a good time.

Whether youʼre looking for exclusive and fashionable establishments or somewhere more laid back, these seven crowd pleasers are sure to tickle your fancy.  Here are the top nightclubs in Edinburgh.

The Hive

Nestled on Niddry Street, just off the Royal Mile (or Cowgate, depending on where youʼre coming from), The Hive doesnʼt look like much from the outside. For the student population, however, itʼs a town hotspot. Despite its modest size, the club boasts 2 dance floors (one playing chart music, the other alternative), 2 regular service bars, and a cocktail bar – all with plenty of seating. The club was aptly named as moving around it, youʼll feel just like youʼre navigating a bee hive. Those looking to go back in time to the cheesy pop anthems of the 90ʻs should head to the smaller back room while those looking to rock out to the dayʼs popular tunes should stick to the main floor. With cheap drinks, friendly staff, and a generally good crowd just looking for a laugh (usually gets busy after midnight), The Hive offers a fun and financially smart night out in the heart of the city.

Open: 7 nights a week, 9/10 PM – 3 AM
Best Nights: Wednesdays (Bangers & Mash: £1.50 entry before 11, £3 after 11, £1 drinks), Thursdays (Frisky: free entry all night, £1.50 drinks), and Sundays (The Sunday Club: free entry, £1 drinks)

HMV Picture House

A considerably larger venue located on Lothian Road, HMV Picture House serves not only as a live music venue earlier in the evening, but also as a popular night club afterwards. Known for its song mashups and remixes, itʼs hard not to get your feet moving at a place like this. The bar also serves the infamous £5 vodka bucket, a souvenir many bring home from their nights out. Entry fees tend to be quite expensive but you can easily get on the guest list  by writing your name on their Facebook page or by talking to one of their PR reps in the street trying to earn their commission which will reduce the cost of entrance by at least a few quid.

Thereʼs something quite majestic about HMV from the outside, as well as an air of old-time Hollywood with the red-carpeted staircase and golden bannisters. If youʼre looking to feel like youʼre in a fancy establishment but still want to pay reasonable prices, then HMV Picture House is for you!

Open: Thurs – Sat, 11 PM – 3 AM
Best Nights: Fridays (Go-Go: £1.20 drinks) and Saturdays (Propaganda: £2 drink)

Opal Lounge

Opal Lounge definitely ups the ante from its two predecessors, something that can be gleaned from its prime location on the bustling George Street. The tables and decor seem to ooze opulence at this luxury nightclub providing an atmosphere suited to those want to club in style. With varied music tracks from popular club music to RnB, youʼre sure to find  something you like that makes you want to dance. If dancingʼs not your thing, why not unwind in the comfortable VIP room and order some champagne? Glamorous is putting it mildly when referring to Opal and those with a taste of elegance should look no further but sit down on one of the woodcrafted booths, relax, and enjoy their evenings.

Open: 7 nights a week, 9 PM – 3 AM
Best Nights: Thursdays (Student Night), Saturdays (Busiest)

Shanghai Club

It may be odd to have the spirit of Chinaʼs vibrant capital city in the capital city of Scotland, but Shanghai Club provides an escape for many looking to have that experience without having to go abroad. Accommodating upwards of 400 people in the Main Club and offering a VIP Lounge (Blue Room) and Red Room for private hire, itʼs a massive establishment and that space does not go to waste. Also located on George Street, itʼs a popular choice among students and young professionals alike for their special promotions and various themed nights. From the 80ʼs to house anthems, thereʼs bound to be a night of the week that  caters to your specific musical taste.

Upon entering Shanghai, youʼll notice a mix of oriental simplicity with a modern twist, making it one of the most unique – and interesting! – night clubs in Edinburgh.

Open: 7 nights a week, 11 PM – 3 AM
Best Nights: Any night (Cheapest: Sundays, £1 drinks)

GHQ Bar Club

GHQ, located on Picardy Place, is in the center of Edinburghʼs gay district known as the pink quarter. Surrounded by competitors, GHQ never ceases to draw the crowds whether itʼs a normal night, or Wednesday – GHQʼs resident straight night, popular with students. Like most Edinburgh clubs, it offers a variety of areas including a dance floor, a bar, and back rooms with comfy and stylish couches under bright neon pink lighting. Expect nothing but the best in service as even when the place gets busy and the crowds get rowdy, their friendly approachable staff will ensure that you have the best time possible. For the social in Edinburgh, whether youʼre gay or straight, you canʼt go wrong with GHQʼs quirky and positive atmosphere on a night out.

Open: Tues – Sun, 9/11 PM – 3 AM
Best Nights: Tuesdays (Twisted Tuesdays: £1 drinks), Wednesdays (Student Night: £1 drinks), Fridays and Saturdays (Nocturnal Disco)

WhyNot? Nightclub

The first ever club on George Street, Whynot?, without a doubt, set a precedent for the night club industry in Edinburgh. One of the cityʼs most prestigious night clubs, itʼs incredibly unpretentious in its decor, friendly atmosphere, and good crowds. This trendy hotspot can hold up to 800 people in its large venue and ensures theyʼre all having a good time with a variety of chart and cheese music tracks on the dance floor. Waiting times can be long to get inside so be sure to arrive early enough that, once youʼre in, youʼll still be able to enjoy all that Whynot? has to offer. If youʼre looking to live up to the extravagant reputation of George Street, why not enter the VIP area and enjoy the finer things in life.

Open: Mon, Fri, & Sat, 10 PM – 3 AM
Best Nights: Mondays (Flare: £4/5 entry, £2 drinks)

Lava Ignite

A night out at Lava Ignite is possibly a one-of-a kind experience. Located on West Tollcross, itʼs a hidden gem which offers three rooms (Lava, Ignite, & Sugar Lounge VIP Room), two stories, and a good number of bars. Dance like youʼre at a genuine 70ʼs disco in Lava or enjoy the DJʼs beats in Ignite, the largest of the two dance floors, holding up to 750 people. Ignite also has a state of the art sound system, recently added as part of a high-end renovation, which does a good job at spouting out a mix of mainstream chart music as well as RnB and HopHop.

Getting on the guest list will guarantee you a queue jump which, given its acclaim among Edinburghʼs finest, could prove to be very useful and lead to a more enjoyable night.

Open: Fri – Sun, 10 PM – 3 AM
Best Nights: Fridays (Broke!: £2 entry, £1.20 drinks)

The Top 5 Live Music Venues in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a city of music – be it due to the famous names that are constantly travelling through town, or just the shockingly talented buskers who litter the city streets. However, if it’s a healthy medium that you’re seeking, there are dozens of locally renowned open mic nights and free live music events throughout the city centre that will suit any taste. Let’s explore the best Edinburgh music venues where you’ll find plenty of musical entertainment.

The Jazz Bar

Scotland may not be renowned for its contributions to the jazz community; however, it just so happens that Edinburgh is home to the ‘best jazz club in the UK,’ (Parliamentary Jazz awards) just off the Royal Mile on Chambers Street.

By day, the bar is a cool café offering the ‘after-work ambience’ of local, unplugged musicians free of charge. By night, music-lovers queue around the corner in order to catch a glimpse of some of the bigger names in contemporary jazz that stop through the city. The Jazz Bar is a must for any music enthusiast – regardless of the preconceptions they may have regarding jazz, no one ever seems to leave disappointed.

Out of the Bedroom at the Montague

Nestled in the Southside of Edinburgh on Montague Street, the Montague Bar plays the venue to Edinburgh’s most popular open mic night: Out of the Bedroom. Boasting to be Edinburgh’s oldest open mic night, this ritualistic amateur music event brings out some of the more talented and colourful musicians and poets in the city.

The Montague Bar recently witnessed a much-needed facelift, and provides a cosy setting to enjoy one of their choice whiskeys whilst listening to some of the city’s best, undiscovered talent.

The Rat Pack Piano Bar

The Rat Pack Piano Bar is one of few places in Edinburgh that provides, without fail, free live music seven nights a week. Located in the heart of the West End on Shandwick Place, the small Italian-owned haunt plays host to the city’s best piano players. The dimly-lit but stylish interior is an ideal place to stop for a drink and listen to live music – no matter what the hour, as the Rat Pack’s regular players are known to dish out requests well-past 3 am!

Electric Circus

Tucked away into a corner just next to Waverly Station, Electric Circus is bizarre to say the least; a ‘Clockwork Orange-inspired’ interior plays host to one of the more intimate music venues in town, where the owners provide a stage for the more promising up-and-coming bands in the country.

A surprising number of best-selling artists have graced the stage at Electric Circus well-before their names were recognizable, which is reason enough to frequent the club on the off-chance that you’ll meet the world’s next big superstar. A very alternative venue for very alternative musicians, Electric Circus never offers a dull moment.

Whistle Binkies

If the doors of Whistle Binkies are open, there is a band on the stage. This tiny but widely popular venue on South Bridge typically hosts 4-6 bands every day of the week – almost entirely free of charge.

While many of these bands may have familiar names, Whistle Binkies are more than happy to give local bands – young and old – a chance to play for the world. Their open mic night on Mondays has packed the house every week for nearly ten years, providing the city’s undiscovered talent a respectable audience in order to showcase their skills. With drinks flowing and constant music, Whistle Binkies proves a good time every night of the week.