Based on the weather over the past few days, it’s hard to imagine that Spring is officially in full swing! Alas, it is, in fact, mid-April and to be fair, a little rain never held anyone in Edinburgh back before! Spring is one of the best times to be in the capital, with every weekend full of festivals, markets and outdoor events to keep the whole family busy. We’ve searched high and low for our top picks of things to put a little spring in your step this season!
If Edinburgh does any event right, it’s festivals! With 12 major annual festivals sprinkled with an assortment of smaller scale ones, there’s never a lack of activities to fill your weekends with. “Festival season” kicks off early April with the International Science Festival (which wraps up this week) and goes straight through until Edinburgh’s world famous Hogmany Celebration in December! Ones to look out for this spring include:
28 May 2016 to 5 June 2016
The Imaginate Festival is an international festival of performing arts for children and young people. With companies travelling from as far away as New Zealand and Norway, there are shows for kids of all ages! The Family Fringe weekend (May 28 & 29) includes a taster of the festival with free activities all weekend long at the National Museum of Scotland.
Ticket prices vary based on performance. For more information check out http://www.imaginate.org.uk/
Hidden Door Festival
27 May to 4 June 2016
Launched only a few years ago, the Hidden Door festival is back this spring and taking over the abandoned street light depot building behind Kings Stables Road. A not for profit organisation, the festival is run by dozens of volunteers and celebrates 9 days and nights of art, music, theatre, bars, street food and more. It’s free to attend from 12pm-6pm every day over these 9 days, with ticketed events held in the evening. With over 10,000 attendees last year, you’d be best to get your tickets quick!
Evening ticketed events from £8-£15. Check out the wide variety of entertainment at http://hiddendoorblog.org/
Beltane Fire Festival
30 April 2016
The annual Beltane Fire Festival takes place on Calton Hill and acts as a modern interpretation of an ancient Iron Age Celtic ritual celebrating the return of Summer. A pyromaniacs’ delight, the evening is full of stage performances, drums and dancing and begins with a procession which starts at the National Monument (the Acropolis-esque monument) and proceeds anti clockwise around the path meeting different characters and groups along the way as they detail the progression of the turn of Summer. It’s an experience not to miss and tickets often sell out. We would suggest to dress appropriately due to the ever-changing weather and be prepared to dance into the wee hours.
For those with wee ones, Family Beltane is held on Saturday, 23 April 2016 from 1:30-4:30pm and includes storytelling, face painting and other arts and crafts. It is a free event and takes place at the Scottish Storytelling Centre located on the Royal Mile.
Gates open from 8pm and tickets are £8-8.50 in advance, and £10 at the gate. Learn more about the festival, it’s history and to buy tickets at beltane.org
As stated earlier, a little rain never kept anyone in, as most markets run all year-round in Edinburgh. Depending on what you’re on the lookout for, the weekly Edinburgh Farmers Market (Castle Terrace, Saturdays, 9am-2pm) is always full of local meat, fruit and veg, food and drink trucks/stalls and other speciality products. The Stockbridge Market (Saunders Street EH3 6TQ, Sundays 10am-5pm), Grassmarket Market (EH1 2JR, Saturdays 10am-5pm) and the Leith Market (Dock Place, EH6 6LU, Saturdays 10am-5pm) are all run by the same group and offer a delightful assortment of local produce and suppliers and can always be counted on to find something quirky and to fill your belly. The Leith Market even adds a special Vegan Quarter on the first Saturday of every month!
A recent addition to offering of markets now includes “Street Food Fridays” kicking off this Friday April 15th in Fountainbridge. Not only will there be a variety of food and drink vendors to choose from, there will be free canal boat rides between 12 & 2pm, local musicians and even a 10% discount for local business employees and residents! While some of us may only get down on our lunch break, the market will be open from 11am-7pm and could be an excellent stop to kick off your weekend, especially getting into the summer months!
Street Food Fridays, Fountainbridge (behind Akva). Every Friday. Follow @FountainFridays for more info.
Newcomers to the market scene this year are the Pitt Street Market. Held on the last Saturday of the month, the first few events have been met with a resounding success with each event growing in size (even though the lot stays the same). With a variety of street food traders, pop up bars and live music, the market runs from noon til 10pm with lots of places to relax in the elusive Scottish sunshine (and canvases to hide beneath as well as fire pits to warm up beside if the weather changes).
The Pitt Street Market, 25 Pitt Street, Leith. Next market April 30, 2016. Follow @thepittmarket for more info.
Get active and support a good cause
While we could go on and on about all the amazing parks in Edinburgh to while your days away in, spring is the best time to get outside and get active! Get your body, mind and soul in check this spring by signing up for one of the following 5K events!
Gung-Ho Seriously fun 5K
11 June 2016
This event, taking place over the next few months in a variety of locations all over the UK, includes a 5K run around the Meadows park that incorporates up to 10 inflatable obstacles! It sounds ridiculously fun and looks like a mix between a marathon and an episode of Wipe Out! Even if you don’t win, it will be a guaranteed good time. They are partnered up with BBC Children in Need, but you are welcome to fund raise for your own chosen cause.
Gung-Ho 5K, Learn more and sign up at begung-ho.co.uk
Colour Me Rad 5K
28 May 2016
Taking place on the same day as the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 5K, this run is for those who don’t mind getting a bit colourful (corn starch allergies need not apply) and getting out for a great time. Crazy costumes are welcomed and if you can stop yourself from laughing long enough, you’ll probably enjoy the crazyness of the day. Spots are booking up quickly, though, so get a few friends together, raise money for a favourite charity and get out and get a face full of rainbows.
Colour Me Rad 5K, £20 until 17 April. Learn more at colormerad.co.uk/race/edinburgh
Once you’ve run yourself tired, perused the markets, and checked out the festivals, what more could you want than to curl up with a lovely dram, GnT or treat yourself to a quick Edinburgh spa treatment from Zen?
Whisky and Cheese Tasting
There are few things I would dislike pairing with cheese. I’d be happy with a cheese and cheese pairing, to be fair, but what could be more lovely than a cozy evening pairing it with a few delicious drams of sweet Scottish nectar? Whiski Rooms offer many options of whisky tastings but have chosen the cheese pairing for the spotlight. This session includes 4 different whiskies and paired cheeses and your host will also cover the production, maturation and bottling process of the whiskies themselves. The event lasts only but an hour in the late afternoon, so you will still have an evening to enjoy the sunset full of your own warming glow.
Whiski Rooms Tasting Sessions, £25pp, Check site for dates and times whiskirooms.co.uk/whiskytastings
How better to enjoy the fresh, spring-y taste of a gin and tonic than floating along the Union Canal? Local pop up bar group, Solid Liquids, host a 2 hour boat cruise which includes a 3 course selection of bites from the Inside-Out-Chef, 5 gin tasters and a gin cocktail/mixed drink. The cruise is covered and heated so will be great in all weather and the boats can hold up to 28 guests – a great idea for a birthday afternoon, hen party, or a relaxing day out on the canal.
Juniper Cruise, Union Canal (behind Akva) Various dates available, 1pm-3pm, £31. solid-liquids.co.uk/cruise
Reveal your inner glow from Zen
After a long cold winter, nothing feels better than getting a fresh facial or pedicure from Zen Lifestyle. While Spring may not “officially” be flip flop weather, there’s nothing wrong with getting those toes prepped to be on show! Scrubbing away your winter skin to show the glow underneath will get you on the way to feeling ready for those spring and summer fashions. We’d recommend the Express Pedicure for a quick refresh or an Elemis Lime & Ginger Salt Glow & Massage to reveal a full body glow from head to toe!
Mani/Pedis also make great gifts! Why not grab a voucher and not only treat yourself, but a deserving family member/friend this spring?