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Braemar Gathering/Edinburgh Festival

1) I am going to be in London for five weeks in Aug on a study abroad. Weekends are our own time and am contemplating taking a train up to Edinburgh to see the festival. Would probably try and take an early early train and come back on a very late train. Would it be worth it to go for only one day? Would staying one night in a hostel and returning later the next day be a better option?

2) After the study abraad I'm traveling in Scotland. My friend and I are planning on renting a car and driving from Edinburgh to Inverness. As it happens, the day we're relocating is the first Sat in Sep which is the Braemar Gathering. Would it be worth going a little out of the way to go to it? Because we'll have to get to Inverness that day would it be worth it if we can only stay a couple hours?



Posted by
505 posts


Edinburgh is not really a day trip - especially since the best Festival events can be in the later afternoon or evenings. Also, railworks are frequently done on the weekend, so it could be a 5+ hour trip each way. You would be much better off staying in a hostel for one night. However, you should book the hostel ASAP, because hostels, especially, fill up well in advance for festival time.

Also, you should book the train tickets as soon as they are available (usually 3 months in advance) because so many people come up to Edinburgh for festival weekends that space can be tight. Plus the later you book, the higher the prices.

If you rent a car, do it at the Edinburgh Airport - driving in the city is a nightmare these days. Also book well ahead if you want an automatic - most rentals are stick shift.

Have fun!

Posted by
5678 posts

I would agree with Kate about booking your travel and your hotel well in advance if you want to have anything affordable. Also, you should look in to booking tickets in advance if you want to go as well. I've been in Edinburgh during the festival once and I would have really enjoyed it more if I had booked one of the concerts or plays. All the popular events were booked by the time I looked.

I haven't been, but I've heard that the Braemar Gathering is quite something. But, I think from what I've heard and read, it's draws big crowds. If you plan you'll be okay, but do plan.

Also, you do not need or want a car in Edinburgh itself. If you're picking one up at the airport and headed north than that's good planning. If you're visiting Scotland at the end of the trip you can drop the car off in city center. I no trouble doing that. One of the car rental spots was near Prince's Street and the other near Murrayfield.

Have a great trip. Get off the A9!


Posted by
45 posts

Am now planning on staying a night and will be booking a hostel ASAP. I have several other train tickets to buy, so have been counting the days until they become available--and my boyfriend thought I was being rediculously premature to start planning back in March!

We will be renting the car after our stay in Edinburgh as I see no need to have it while there and then driving to Inverness. Will have the car while in Inverness and will be returning it to Edinburgh airport (where we're renting from) before our flight to Dublin.

Still not sure about Braemar. I think it would be fun, but I didn't know about it until recently so it wasn't planned in and I'm not sure it's worth the stress of trying to get from Edinburgh to Inverness with the side trip in time to check into our B&B. Maybe trying to do too much in too short a time.

Thanks for the advice!

Posted by
208 posts

The Braemar Gathering is at the very least, an interesting experience. I went in 2002 during the Queen's Jubilee. The highlight of the day is the heavy athletics as well as HM's arrival and departure. That year, only HM and the Duke were in attendance, but it was still amazing to see her! You can enter the Gathering without a ticket, but for guaranteed seating, you can get tickets in the grandstand. The ticket office was very willing to help with the best possible seats.

If you're going to the Festival, for the cheapest accomodation, I'd consider Castle Rock Hostel - you can see Edinburgh Castle from the door. If you're planning on going to Edinburgh during August, you'd best be booking quickly!!