Top Ten Live Music Venues in Edinburgh
22nd November 2023
When you think of the iconic city of Edinburgh, do you think of its historic castle, fascinating museums and galleries, world-class restaurants, fresh green spaces, or fantastic shops? There is so much to see and do, you really are spoiled for choice.
But when evening falls over the cobbles of the Royal Mile, or the Georgian splendour of the New Town, Scotland’s capital city does anything but sleep. It boasts a thriving live music scene with a huge range of atmospheric venues in the city centre that are well worth a toe-tapping visit.
Here is our definitive list of the top ten places where you can enjoy live music in Edinburgh.
Whistle Binkies is located in the historic vaults beneath South Bridge and is loved by music enthusiasts, students and night owls. Open every night until 3am, this venue has been well-known for live music for over 30 years. Locals and tourists gather here to enjoy Scotland's finest bands and brews. In celebration of its legacy, entry is now free every night, and this great venue features up to four live bands on weekdays and a staggering six acts on weekends. Prepare to be there for a while!
Groove Down Band at Whistle Binkies, photo by Marina Braw marinasolarphoto.com
Located on Edinburgh's Cowgate, Stramash is a meeting place for music lovers. Having undergone a significant transformation in 2015, this 900-capacity venue now boasts two large floors, dedicated to the enjoyment of live music. The well-designed stage ensures that every spot offers a clear, uninterrupted view of the performance. With its lovely interiors and great atmosphere, Stramash stands out as one of the best live music venues in Edinburgh.
Finnegan's Wake is an authentic Irish treasure, located on Victoria Street. Stepping through its iconic green door, you are greeted by banter from its friendly bouncers and a large dance floor that’s perfect for a jig. This Irish pub's reputation for live music is top-notch and as we all know, Irish folk know how to have a good time! With musicians from the city playing well into the night, at Finnegan's Wake, every evening feels like a celebration.
Photo supplied by Finnegan's Wake
The Banshee Labyrinth
Nestled in Niddrie Street, Banshee Labyrinth is known as ‘Scotland’s Most Haunted Pub ’- and it now merges its gruesome history with great music. With a history including dark tales of the notorious "underground Vaults'' and the secrets of witch-torturing Lord Nicol Edwards, the walls of the labyrinth tell many a tale! It is now a welcoming family-run venue. After free entry, you can drink in one of seven unique rooms and immerse yourself in one of the pub’s great live gig nights.
Located on the Royal Mile, Whiski Bar & Restaurant is a real Edinburgh gem. With lots of fresh, local dishes to try, they also have over 300 Scotch whiskies on offer and serve some fantastic, handcrafted cocktails and local beers. Every night, they bring in lively bands to entertain you with traditional and modern Scottish music. This bar is all about the best food, drink, and music in a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
The Ensign Ewart
Just a stone's throw from Edinburgh Castle on the Royal Mile, the Ensign Ewart has been a part of Edinburgh’s pub scene since 1680. While it has seen lots of changes over the years, its original charm has stayed the same. Known for its cosy and inviting atmosphere, this pub is a must for traditional folk music. Whether you are after a midweek tune or a vibrant Saturday night band, the Ensign Ewart always promises a memorable experience.
Photo supplied by Ensign Ewart
Situated on Hope Street, Angel’s Share Hotel, Bar & Restaurant has a contemporary vibe. Its stylish rooms celebrate Scottish icons, and this modern destination boasts some great entertainment. The bar is full of infectious energy and regularly hosts Edinburgh’s finest talents. You can catch live performances from Thursday to Sunday that showcase Scotland’s vibrant spirit.
The Royal Oak
Located on Infirmary Street, The Royal Oak is internationally renowned for its warm, inviting atmosphere, friendly staff and regulars, and special old-world charm. It hosts free live music sessions and is open every night into the ‘wee small hours’. If you would like to join in after a few drinks, you are invited to do so on the piano or guitar. Beginners or more accomplished musicians are all welcome.
Photo supplied by The Royal Oak
Found on Forrest Street, Sandy Bell’s is a favourite with Edinburgh locals. It is a musical institution known worldwide for its daily folk sessions. Established in 1942, it has seen countless influential musicians grace its halls. This isn't just any music night; these sessions are genuine gatherings of enthusiasts enjoying their night out, rather than a paid band performance. Pair that with a vast selection of beers, cask ales, and malt whiskies, and you have the perfect Scottish evening.
Inn On the Mile
In the heart of the city stands The Inn on the Mile, a boutique hotel that blends luxury with historical charm. Originally the British Linen Bank built in 1923, this landmark has been thoughtfully transformed into a cosy destination. From 9pm every evening, the atmosphere comes alive with live music, making it the perfect spot for history buffs and music lovers alike - and there is a great view!
Edinburgh’s Best Live Music Venues
From haunting tales at Banshee Labyrinth to energetic fiddles at Finnegan's Wake, Edinburgh’s live music venues all tell a story and showcase Edinburgh’s warm, friendly character. Whether you are a die-hard music fan or just seeking to experience authentic Scottish culture, our top ten venues are all worth a visit. If you are still torn between these musical gems, let us help. With expert knowledge, friendly guides, and tailored experiences, Best Scottish Tours can ensure you make the most of your time in Edinburgh and create memories to last a lifetime. Take a look at our tours.
Photo supplied by The Royal OakRecent articles