Edinburgh after dark: Fun things to do in the Capital at night

While there is an endless list of things to do during the day in Edinburgh, it is when the sun goes down that the city really comes to life.

By Gary Flockhart
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Thursday, 20th January 2022, 10:57 am
Edinburgh really comes to life after dark, with plenty of fun things to see and do.
Edinburgh really comes to life after dark, with plenty of fun things to see and do.

Exploring the Capital’s world-famous landmarks after dark is a great way to soak up the sights, but there are plenty of other attractions too.

When it comes to bars, Auld Reekie is blessed with a wide variety of places to enjoy a tipple or two.

Those who like to dress to impress should head for George Street, which has no shortage of swanky drinking spots, with some of the best cocktails in the city to be found on the New Town street.

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If you’re a music lover, Edinburgh is sure to have something to suit all tastes, with acts on every night and cheap club nights almost every day of the week.

For household names, head to the likes of the Usher Hall, Liquid Room and O2 Academy Edinburgh. Or, if it’s up-coming or local acts you’re after, then Sneaky Pete’s, Summerhall and Bannerman’s will have you covered.

For those looking for a laugh, there are loads of great comedy clubs throughout the city. Head to the Stand Comedy Club or Just the Tonic at The Caves to catch some of the country’s best comedians strutting their stuff on stage.

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This month alone there are some truly unique events to enjoy in Edinburgh, including a Burns Night like no other.

The Real Mary King’s Close have partnered with Amber Restaurant, from The Scotch Whisky Experience, to create a unique Burns Night experience filled with poetry, history, Scotch whisky and delightful dishes.

Guests will start their evening with a guided tour, exploring the uniquely preserved streets and spaces underneath the famous Royal Mile, where they will learn about the city’s dark past, listen to a recital of Burns poetry and raise a glass to Scotland’s favourite son.

Afterwards, guests will be escorted to Amber Restaurant at the top of the Royal Mile, where they will be treated to an exquisite three-course Burns Taste of Scotland menu, including a taste of haggis, a trio of starters, a trio of mains, with a specially selected dram matched with dessert to draw the evening to a close with its own special tale.

The personalised menu will include some Burns poetry to enjoy reading over dinner.

An Edinburgh Burns Night’ is available to book on January 25, 28 and 29, while Amber Restaurant will be offering the Burns Taste of Scotland menu from January 25 to 30.

The tours start at 5.30pm and 6pm, and costs £22 per person (£14.50 per child), while the tour and dinner is £62pp. For more details, www.realmarykingsclose.com

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is one of the oldest purpose-built attractions in Edinburgh – but even most locals don’t know about the fantastic views from its rooftop terrace.

Now, for the first time in 168 years, visitors to this family-friendly venue will be able to look at views from the Camera Obscura after dark, using the power of modern technology.

Since 1853, when Maria Short brought her prized telescope to the Royal mile, millions of visitors and locals alike have been mesmerised by live, moving pictures of the city via the Camera Obscura. The telescope uses a mixture of daylight, reflections, and mirrors to project a live image internally onto a table within a dark chamber.

The current team at Camera Obscura have gone to great lengths to ensure visitors can experience the same spectacular views after dark.

Using a camera fixed to the top of the tower roof to capture footage during daylight hours and a top-quality projector installed within the chamber itself; Camera Obscura and World of Illusions have developed a brand-new, contemporary visitor experience where guides can show-off the same magnificent views and give visitors some history of iconic Edinburgh landmarks without the use of daylight.

Panoramic viewpoints from Camera Obscura include famous city landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle, The Scott Monument, St Giles Cathedral, The Balmoral, and The National Gallery of Scotland, with views extending all the way to Fife.

Andrew Johnson, General Manager, Cameras Obscura and World of Illusions, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have introduced this new visitor experience.

“We’ve always been so proud of the spectacular sights we offer visitors from our Camera Obscura, and it is fantastic we can now continue to do so after dark. “We’re excited to see people’s reactions, and look forward to sharing more, amazing views with guests as we head into a new year.”

Those who like to feel the hair on the back of their neck standing up should make a beeline for The Dark Side of Edinburgh tour.

Run by tour operator Sandemans, on this two-hour walking tour you will see Auld Reekie’s shady and wild side as you hear real-life tales of witches, body-snatchers and cannibals.

The tour also takes in some of the spots where murders, monsters and mayhem have become things of legend, and includes visits to Calton Cemetery and the Canongate Kirkyard – two of Edinburgh’s most chilling cemeteries – and see the mausoleums and caged-in graves that still exist today.

From the serial killers Burke and Hare to the mystery of the 17 doll coffins at Arthur’s Seat, this is one spooky tour.

The Edinburgh Dark Side Tour starts on 130 High Street, on the corner with Stevenlaw's Close, and is priced at £16 for adults and a fiver for kids. To find out more, visit www.neweuropetours.eu

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