5 best places to watch the Edinburgh Festival Fireworks

Marking the end of festival season with a spectacular bang is a long-held tradition in Edinburgh.

But where is the best vantage point to view what’s billed as  as ‘the world’s biggest fireworks concert’?

While everyone will differ on whether opera, comedy or cabaret provide the best entertainment during August, most of us can appreciate the awe-inspiring nature of a well-choreographed fireworks display.

The Virgin Money Fireworks Concert officially brings the Edinburgh International Festival to an end, but the annual event has become a symbol for the finale of all of August’s festivities.

But as residents and repeat visitors know, there is more than one place in Edinburgh where you can go to enjoy the summer’s most explosive event – and you can listen to the music live on Forth One.

1. Princes Street Gardens

EIF fireworks

There are no longer tickets available to view the concert from The Ross Theatre in Princes Street Gardens, but standard Princes Street Gardens tickets and Priority Entry can be bought via the Edinburgh International Festival website, and you can even bring your own deck chair if the thought of standing for several hours doesn’t appeal. Priority Entry will allow spectators to enter 30 minutes earlier and are priced at £17.50 (standard being £12.50).

2. Inverleith Park

Picture: Dawn Loh / Flickr / CC

Not everyone wants to venture into the city centre and brave the crowds. Luckily, Inverleith Park to the north of the city provides a perfectly framed ‘widescreen’ view of the castle in the pleasant environs of playing fields, a duck pond and its surrounding allotments.

There will even be an official family viewing area set up, with extra entertainment and a big screen for those who don’t want to miss any of the details. The park opens at 7pm and entry is completely free.

Inverleith Park is one mile north of the city centre, beside the Royal Botanic Gardens at Arboretum Place, or a short stroll from Raeburn Place in Stockbridge

3. Calton Hill

Picture: Fergus Ray Murray / Flickr / CC

Leithers and those staying  in the east of Edinburgh may prefer a jaunty stroll up Calton Hill where the fireworks can be enjoyed for free with a quick and easy walk home after the dust has settled. Whilst the walk up to the top is short, it is fairly steep.

Robert Louis Stevenson said of this vantage point way back in 1889: “Of all places for a view, this Calton Hill is perhaps the best”, and the philosopher David Hume also strongly argued that the hill should be made freely accessible “for the health and amusement of the inhabitants” – we cannot say for sure whether he had fireworks watching in mind at the time.

Calton Hill is a short walk from the east end of Princes Street and can be accessed from Regent Road or Greenside Row.

4. Bruntsfield Links

Picture: byronv2 / Flickr / CC

On the south side of Edinburgh the fireworks can be seen clearly from Bruntsfield Links, in particular from the higher ground in front of Warrender Park Terrace. With a number of upmarket pubs and restaurants within walking distance, this could be a very smart choice for anyone wanting to get fed and watered before the show begins.

Bruntsfield Links is 1.5 miles south of the city centre, a short walk from The Meadows.

5. Arthur’s Seat / Salisbury Crags

Picture: TSPL

For those of a more active and adventurous disposition who want their surrounding views to be equally as spectacular as the fireworks, head to Holyrood Park and make the fairly steep climb up to Salisbury Crags (151ft) or even to the top of Arthur’s Seat (823ft).

You may want to take care climbing to the top in places, especially in the dark once the bright lights of the fireworks have subsided (bringing a torch might be advisable).

To get to Holyrood Park take a walk down the Canongate, or via Holyrood Park Road in Newington or Duddingston.

Other options

Edinburgh is a city of hills, and there are other good spots to watch (or take photos) from, including Blackford Hill, Corstorphine Hill, Craiglockart Hill, The Braids, North Bridge and Johnstone Terrace (although the last two are always crowded).

Edinburgh Festivals: Full Coverage