The Festival Wheel (aka Edinburgh Festival Wheel and Big Wheel) is a large mechanical, red and white Ferris Wheel, situated in the centre of Edinburgh, in East Princes Street Garden. Made in Italy, it has around 20,000 lights. The large wheel is a temporary structure, raised during the summer months at the Edinburgh Festivals.
Not quite as tall as the neighbouring Scott Monument, the 42 metre Festival Wheel lifts you up high above the National Galleries, offering impressive views (weather permitting) of the New Town and across the Firth of Forth to the Kingdom of Fife.
After paying for tickets in a booth at the foot of the Wheel, or booking online, riders are boarded onto one of 27 gondalas, at various points on the wheel. The wheel gradually climbs in stages above the gardens as the operators carefully load their human cargo, paying attention to load balancing.
The Wheel then spins for three rotations before, a few minutes later, passengers are disembarked.
As the Festival Wheel cycles up and down, the rider is presented with a panoramic sweep that extends West down Princes Street and across to Edinburgh Castle. In the distant North East the coastline becomes visible and then sinks behind Edinburgh rooftops, while in the other direction you get a bird's eye view of Waverley Station and the jumble of buildings of the Old Town ascending to the Castle. In the distance, Arthur's Seat and Holyrood Park also comes into view.
The gap between the safety bars on the gondolas offer plenty of space for 360 degree viewing as well as plenty of room for taking photographs and video. Be quick with the photograph: as the gondola rises and falls it also twists gently around so you may be facing North to the Scott Monument as you climb upwards and then be looking down Princes Street to Haymarket and beyond a few seconds later. A good time for pictures is when the gondola stops at the 12 o'clock mark on the wheel for a short while, before continuing the descent.
The ticket price at £9.50 (£7.50 for a child/concessions) plus £1 online booking fee, might give you pause for thought. Note that there is a 20% discount for those who live in the EH postcode, which means a family of four can ride for £23.20.
Those more keen on heritage values, rather than a fairground ride, might consider climbing the narrow steps to the top of the historic Scott Monument alongside the Festival Wheel for a panoramic view.
Wed 29 June - Mon 2 September 2019
10am-10pm daily (last ride at 9.45pm)
Winter Festivals (TBC): 18th November to 6th January 2019 from 10am to 10pm (last ride 20 minutes before end).
2019 Ticket prices
£9.50 per person
£7.50 concessions & children under 14
£29 family ticket (4 people, max. 2 adults & min of 1 adult)
Tickets can be booked in advance online.
If you live at an EH address bring proof of residence for a 20% discount (driving license, bus pass or utility bill).