Edinburgh Festival Carnival

Submitted by edg on Fri, 9 Jun '23 10.38pm
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Golden chinese carnival dragon
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A free, family music and dance event with a flamboyant, festive flavour, the Edinburgh Festival Carnival takes place on the opening Sunday of the Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival, a day after the free Mardi Gras.

Billed as "Scotland's largest multicultural celebration", the event is in two parts: the Carnival begins with a parade of around 800 performers dressed in fabulous costumes from around the world, at 1pm, dancing, playing, and wielding giant puppets, from the top of the Mound down to the West End of Princes Street.

The carnival then continues into West Princes Street Garden for, the second part of the event, an afternoon of music, drumming, dance, acrobatics, and interactive kids' activities centred around the Ross Band Stand.

Performing artists and Groups

This year’s parade features community groups from across Edinburgh, alongside KalentuRa Drums from the Netherlands, The Burntisland & District Pipe Band and more.

The festivities continue with performances at Ross Bandstand and throughout Princes Street Gardens - from an extended samba explosion to Chinese dancers and dragons. 

The afternoon culminates with a musical showcase by the The Caribbean Music Festival: Windrush 75, featuring songs from generations of Caribbean and Black British artists including ska, reggae, calypso, soca, and more. 

Tens of thousands of people line the streets down the Mound and Princes Street for the procession and to pour into the Garden for the afternoon performances with its zones for dance, music and circus.

Carnival Parade Times (2024 tbc)

1-3pm: The Parade is led from The Mound to West Princes Street Gardens.

3-6pm: Non-stop performances of troupes of Latin, Chinese, Caribbean, African and more at Ross Band Stand and around West Princes Street Gardens. In 2023, as well as the Ross band stand, there was a dance stage, a drum zone, and a Chinese zone with dance, music, circus, street arts, and kids activities. 

This event is free - one of many free events at the Edinburgh Festival.


The Edinburgh Festival Carnival was introduced to Edinburgh's festivals calendar in 2012 as a way of kicking off the summer festivals calendar with some razzamatazz, and to make up for the loss of two major free events in August, the Edinburgh Festivals' Cavalcade and Fringe Sunday.

The Jazz Festival previously had a lower-key, free event on the first weekend of the festival at the Ross bandstand with free bands, called Jazz on a Summer's Day.

The Carnival was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to pandemic restrictions.