When visiting a new city, there’s nothing better than listening to some live music with a local beer and new friends you’ve met on your travels. There is an abundance of live music bars in Edinburgh to choose from. So much so, its difficult to know where to begin.
To make it easier, we have compiled a list of our favorites here. We have tried to include a variety, from old pubs playing traditional music, to modern rock bars. Here is our list of the best live music bars in Edinburgh-let us know your favorite!
Everyone in Edinburgh knows of The Jazz Bar, and for good reason. This basement bar has been welcoming live bands since it opened its doors in 2005. With around 3-5 gigs every day, it is the perfect place to catch a show.
But it’s not just jazz fans that this bar caters to. The Jazz Bar welcomes a huge variety of bands, from acoustic and blues to soul and electric.
It has also won a ton of awards as a live music venue in Edinburgh, including UK Jazz Venue of the Year and Scotland’s Music Pub of the Year. So you can go along safe in the knowledge that whatever you hear is probably going to be good.
Jazz Bar is located at 1 Chambers Street, just off South Bridge and is open every day from 5pm till 3am.
Visit their website at www.thejazzbar.co.uk
Address: 1 Chambers Street, Edinburgh
One of our favourite bars to take our guests to, Sandy Bells has been a fixture on the Edinburgh live music scene for some time now.
Becoming famous for its live music in the 1960s, the bar is known internationally for its folk music. When you walk in, you know instantly you are in a traditional Scottish Bar. With its wooden interior and cosy feel, there is no mistaking it. Sandy Bells also has an extensive whiskey list and their friendly and knowledgeable staff will always be happy to help you pick out a dram.
Whilst there is live music every night from 9pm, musicians often pop in throughout the day and evening for a drink and play spontaneously. So, for lovers of folk music, it can be quite a magical place. It is different from most live music bars in that the performers aren’t up on a stage or separated from the audience. Instead, they sit amongst the other customers, with their drink, and play the night away.
Make sure you arrive early if you are wanting to watch the 9pm live music. The pub has such a popular reputation amongst locals and tourists that it can get extremely busy and you may not get a seat. Despite this, the charming bar is a fantastic experience and one that everyone should visit during their time in Edinburgh.
Sandy Bells is located at 25 Forrest Road, just along from the Edinburgh University student union. It is open from midday to 1am.
Address: 25 Forrest Road, Edinburgh
Bannermans is well known on the live music scene in Edinburgh and has been hosting local bands for years. This relaxed bar sits half underground in Edinburgh’s Cowgate region. The Cowgate itself is teeming with live music acts, however, if in doubt, head to Bannermas.
Supporting local talent from Edinburgh and the surrounding areas, it’s a great place to find upcoming Scottish musicians. And with live acts playing 6 nights a week, there is a huge variety of bands coming through their doors. They even have compilation CDs filled with the music of bands who have played for them. These CD’s are available for free- just ask their friendly bar staff.
If your looking for something slightly different, Bannersmans also hosts regular Karaoke nights and has a fantastic pool table. And for those looking to perform themselves, there is also an open mic night. This, combined with its friendly atmosphere, brilliant whiskey collection and food menu, makes Bannermans a brilliant evening out!
You can find Bannermans at 212 Cowgate. It is open from midday till 1am.
Address: 212 Cowgate, Edinburgh
One of the coolest venues on our list, the Voodoo rooms is a live music venue in the city centre, literally beneath Haystack Hostel. The bar is set in an old building and they have retained all the original wood and plasterwork. There is no better example of this than its ceiling, which is mesmerising, whilst the rest of its interior has a tiki theme.
Known for its live music and incredible cocktails, the bar has won multiple awards including Best Cocktail Bar, Best Music Bar and Best Spirits Bar, to name just a few. There is an extensive cocktail list with regular specials created by the professional mixologists, displayed throughout the bar. The Voodoo Rooms also offers a delicious food, with a large restaurant area, so you can ensure you are well fed before partaking in a few cocktails.
Whilst The Voodoo rooms has always featured live music, in 2010, the bar expanded to another part of the building to create a dedicated events space. It has good quality sound and lighting, and even has a light up dancefloor! This events space is dedicated to putting on great live acts, from music, to comedy, to drama. Always something on, check out their website and Facebook page for upcoming events.
The Voodoo Rooms is located at 19a West Register Street, just next to Haystack Hostel and is open from 4pm till 1am Monday to Thursday and Midday till 1am Friday to Sunday.
Address: 19A West Register Street, Edinburgh
One of Edinburgh’s oldest independent venues, this basement bar has always been popular among live music lovers. It has a warm and cosy feel to it, whilst its regulars who come for the live music, make it an extremely friendly place to spend an evening. The venue itself has a flexible seating arrangement, making it perfect for a while host of different events. With this in mind, it has hosted everything from live music and comedy to club nights.
Sticking to no particular genre, it provides a space for all manner of bands to come in and play for the public. From Rock to Jazz, you can expect something new each night.
Find Henry’s Cellar Bar at 16A Morrison Street. Open until 3am.
Address: 16A Morrison Street, Edinburgh
In the 1800’s, the poorer residents of Edinburgh’s Old Town moved into stone vaults underneath the South Bridge in an effort to get away from overcrowding and high rent. These vaults were rediscovered in the late 90s and today are known as one of the most haunted places in the UK. Today, many of them have been turned into bars, with Whistle Binkies being one of the more famous among them. The name itself was derived from a story and means ‘Piper of the Party’, and today it is a fun and merry playing live music every night.
Famous amongst Edinburgh locals for its live music, everybody has heard of Whistle Binkies. It is indeed a fun venue to visit; its drinks selection is extensive, its staff are warm and the live music is fantastic. Midweek, the venue is free entry and has up to 4 live bands playing each night. On the Weekend, the venue is free if you arrive before midnight and they have up to 6 acts playing.
Whistle Binkies is located on South Bridge and is open till 3am.
Address: 4-6 South Bridge, Edinburgh
A Haystack favourite, Stramash is an incredible live music venue which always offers a brilliant experience. Located in the Cowgate, just along from the Grassmarket, Stramash is a 900-capacity live music venue which is also home to Edinburgh’s largest TV screen, perfect for watching the big game on.
Set in a former church that was built in 1859 itself, the venue features incredible architecture and a rustic and intriguing interior. Built across two floors, there are various areas for people to relax in, dance, or listen to live events, depending on how they feel. Despite the capacity and how busy the bar is, Stramash has a variety of bar areas scattered throughout so you don’t have to que to long for a drink.
It’s huge main stage is located in its main hall when you walk in. This features fantastic acts, from rock to traditional Scottish music. Every Wednesday, they offer a free Ceilidh. This is a great way to experience the Scottish dance celebration as someone on stage is there to instruct you on how to do each dance.
Open till 3am each night, Stramash is located at 207 Cowgate.
Address: 207 Cowgate, Edinburgh
Sitting on Edinburgh’s famous Victoria Street, Finnegans Wake is a beautiful Irish bar popular with both locals and tourists. Located so close to the Grassmarket, it is busy most evenings and is a great spot for a pint of Guinness. Showing all live sport, it is very popular with students looking to watch the game, and the atmosphere is always warm and friendly.
The venue hosts live music regularly throughout the week. Being much larger than some of the other bars on our list, it is perfect for those wanting to have a drink and listen to music, without being crammed into a small area. From folk bands to cover bands, Finnegans wake does it all. Live comedy is also a feature at Finnegans, so watch out for events coming up on their website.
Finnegans Wake is located at 9b Victoria Street and is open from 1am.
Address: 9b Victoria Street, Edinburgh
The Black Cat is a small little pub on Rose Street. Rose Street itself is home to over… pubs. Each one has its own charm and it’s worth exploring them during your trip to Edinburgh. However, the Black Cat gets our vote for live music. Opened in 2011, it is a cosy, intimate bar with a very cool interior of dark wood and barrels. On a summers day, you will find locals and tourists alike, enjoying a beer on it’s street side table area. The bar itself has a huge variety of local beers and a hand picked selection of Scottish whiskies. It also serves good Scottish food from 11am.
For live music, the Black Cat has traditional Scottish live bands playing for them on various days throughout the week from about 5pm onwards. Check their Facebook page to find out more about their live music schedule.
The Black Cat is situated at 168 Rose Street and is open 11am till 1am.
Address: 168 Rose Street, Edinburgh
Another Haystack favourite, the Ensign Ewart is a cracking place to enjoy some traditional live music in a cosy and relaxed setting. The Ensign Ewart is known as the highest pub in Edinburgh due to it’s place at the top of the Royal Mile. It was established back in around 1680 in its current location, making it one of the older pubs around. With its low ceilings and beautiful wooden interior, it’s a great spot to grab a beer after visiting the Castle.
The pub has live music every night from 9pm onwards. They welcome traditional musicians such as fiddlers who sit in the pub among the locals and play their music. With 4 Scottish cask ales and a brilliant whiskey selection, it is a great place to truly get that Scottish experience.
The Ensign Ewart can be found at 521-523 Lawnmarket (top of the Royal Mile) and is open 11am till 1am.
Address: 521-523 Lawnmarket, Edinburgh
Another quintessentially traditional Scottish pub, the Royal Oak is another bar which is famous among live music fans and musicians alike.
With a beautiful pub area upstairs which offers traditional Scottish beers and a great downstairs area which acts as a live music venue, the Royal Oak is a fantastic place to come and watch local musicians play. It is so popular that local musicians will come in throughout the day for a coffee or a pint and spontaneously start playing. Whatever time of day it is, you could experience some incredible live music.
But it is the nightly gigs playing downstairs which is the real draw for live music fans. With a good variety of genres, there is something for everyone. Be prepared to stand during these gigs- they always draw a large crowd, but it is definitely worth the visit.
The Royal Oak is open Monday to Saturday 11:30am- 2am and Sundays 3pm to 2 am. It is located at 1 Infirmary Street Edinburgh.
Address: 1 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh
We hope you enjoy the bars and pubs that we have listed here. Let us know your favorites and if there is any that we have missed. If you have any questions or want further advice, you can get in touch with us- we are always happy to help.