10 of the best live music bars in Edinburgh

Fans of live music will certainly not be bored in Scotland's capital.

Published 10th Feb 2017
Updated 20 th Sep 2023

Edinburgh's bar scene is full of live performance venues which offer great music, great food and great drinks.

To help you find the music which best suits your tastes, we have come up with a list of our favourite live music bars in Edinburgh.

Sandy Bell's

(25 Forrest Rd, EH1 2QH, 0131 225 2751)


Sandy Bell's is one of the best folk music venues in Edinburgh, and with good reason. Musicians come from all over to enjoy the atmosphere and show off their skill.

The tradition of music at Sandy Bell's goes all the way back to 1942, so the bar's relationship with folk runs deep.

There is live music every night of the week, including Irish jigs, American bluegrass, and Scottish reels. It's hard to predict what will happen on any given night, but you will be guaranteed some lively tunes.

The whisky and beer lists are very extensive, most of them originating in Scottish distilleries and breweries, with regular Guest Ales.

Jazz Bar

(1A Chambers St, EH1 1HR, 0131 220 4298)

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

Edinburgh's Jazz Bar has won the title Scotland's Jazz Venue of the Year twice, as well as four other prestigious awards. In their own words, they “must be doing something right”.

Their diverse programme of performers, of course, includes jazz musicians, but there are also blues, funk and soul gigs happening at the Jazz Bar regularly. Every single day there are between three and five gigs, which draw people to the venue from across the city.

'First of its kind' island whisky on sale in limited numbers

Locals' loyalty to the Jazz Bar is unwavering – so much so, that in 2007, when the bar was offered a deal on a Yamaha piano that they couldn't afford, the customers and musicians clubbed together to make up the difference.


(212 Cowgate, EH1 1NQ, 0131 556 3254)

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

Six nights a week, Bannerman's hosts the best live rock gigs in the city.

The bar is situated in the Old Town's historic vaults, and is full to bursting with personality. Every year, Bannerman's produces a compilation album of their favourite live acts, and gets 5000 copies of the CD which are then handed out for free.

There is also a good selection of whisky, some tasty pub grub, but most importantly, the venue has bags of atmosphere.

17 things you (probably) didn't know about Irn-Bru

The Voodoo Rooms

(19a W Register St, EH2 2AA, 0131 556 7060)

Picture: Voodoo Rooms

Picture: Voodoo Rooms

Live entertainment, plus cocktails, plus top-notch dining – what could be better for a night out?

The Voodoo Rooms have embodied all three since 2006, in an historic Edinburgh building. In 2008, the bar won six awards, including awards for their cocktails, their music and their design.
The live music events are very diverse, with singer-songwriters, jazz musicians and blues artists taking the stage.

The bar's black and gold theme is both dramatic and luxurious, and the evening food menu full of delicious dishes.

Henry's Cellar Bar

(8 Morrison St, EH3 8BJ, 0131 221 1288)

Gleneagles Townhouse to open a martini lounge
Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

Although most people associate Henry's Cellar Bar with blues and jazz, there are, in fact, many more genres of music which are played here.

Despite its small size and basic design, the range of music is fantastic, the bar's atmosphere is very friendly, and the drinks are mercifully cheap.

Unlike some other live music venues, there is no charge for entry. The community spirit and shared love of music makes for a very relaxed and convivial evening.

The Royal Oak

(1 Infirmary St, EH1 1LT, 0131 557 2976)

Picture: Wow 247

Picture: Wow 247

Ales and spirits are the Royal Oak's main fare, which are best enjoyed alongside their superb live folk music.

For thirty-five years, this pub has had strong links with the folk scene. Now, there is music every single night, with an emphasis on open mic performances. If you bring an instrument and a singing voice with you, that can only enhance your enjoyment of the Royal Oak's unique ambience.

During the Edinburgh Festival, more conventional concerts are put on, meaning you may need to book to get a taste of the Oak's charms.

Whistle Binkie's

(4-6 South Bridge, EH1 1LL, 0131 557 5114)

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

From Sundays to Thursdays, Whistle Binkie's offers free entry to all music lovers, as well as four live bands a night. Fridays and Saturdays are a musical bonanza, featuring six live bands per evening (and a small fee if you arrive after midnight). Genres range from rock, to funk, to blues, with everything in between.
If you fancy showing of your musical talent, Binkie's also hosts the city's longest-running open mic night, every single Monday.
The list of beers and spirits is very impressive, especially when it comes to whiskies – there are eight categories of whiskies on the menu!

The Shore

(3 The Shore, Edinburgh, EH6 6QW, 0131 553 5080)


Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

The Shore offers an excellent programme of live jazz on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and the first Saturday of every month, which can be enjoyed alongside delicious British cuisine.

The open fire and wood panelling make for a homey feel, and the food gives traditional pub food a Modern European twist.

The deer skulls on the walls give the sense of a Scottish hunting lodge, which is counterbalanced by the stylish French posters.

Whiski Bar and Restaurant

(119 High St, EH1 1SG, 0131 556 3095)

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

No matter the night, the Whiski Bar will have live Scottish music for you to enjoy. Situated on the historic Royal Mile in Edinburgh's Old Town, Whiski puts the emphasis on hearty Scottish fare and the finest whiskies the country has to offer.

The seafood and beef come from Scottish seas and farms, ensuring the finest quality and the most authentic taste of Scotland.
Regular bands and performers at Whiski include Muckle Flugga, The Gorms and Roadhouse, who offer foot-stomping tunes which you can't help but dance to.

The Jam House

(5 Queen St, EH2 1JE, 0131 220 2321)

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

Pianist Jools Holland and designer Neil Tibbat came up with the concept for the Jam House in 1999, which would combine fine dining and live music in the centre of Edinburgh. It received a lot of attention from the press when it opened, and provides a unique live entertainment experience. The emphasis is on acoustic music and an intimate, theatrical feel.

Due to their vast range of musical acts, there is sure to be an act which suits your taste, whether that be swing, big band, country, indie, pop, funk or Latin. The food is also exquisite, with influences from all over the world.

Maddy lives in Edinburgh and has written for the Sunday Herald and the Ed Fringe Review. She is passionate about authentic, sustainably sourced food, and is always keen to discover exciting new flavours.
Copyright ©2024 National World Publishing Ltd
Cookie SettingsTerms and ConditionsPrivacy Policy
crosschevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram