The top 6 live music bars in Edinburgh at the Fringe, as chosen by performers Logan's Close

Local musicians ‘Logan’s Close’ give us their favourite Edinburgh bars to go to for live music during the Fringe.

Published 17th Aug 2018
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

The Edinburgh Festival can be a tad daunting at first for newcomers.

Bombardments of thespians belting out theatrical songs every 10 meters of the Royal Mile. Shirtless men wearing Union Jack underpants and throwing knives around.

Relentless barrages of bubbles accompanied by a small army of youths scrambling to burst them. Where does the avid live music fan find solace amongst the chaos, that island lost in a sea of standup comedy?

Picture: Logan's Close

Fear not comrades, local musicians ‘Logan’s Close’ are here to give you their top six live music bars at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Here, you’ll find great tunes and great drinks. It’s going to be okay.

1. Stramash

(207 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JQ)


In an attempt to escape the madness of the Mile, you’re more than likely to descend into the debaucherous Cowgate. This is a blessing in disguise however, as your first port of call in the search for live music will be Edinburgh’s year round, 7 nights-a-week free live music bar.

Set inside a renovated church, this two level shrine has an elevated stage, dedicated sound engineer and 3 different bars at which one can purchase a wide range of Scottish-brewed beers as well as all the classic draughts.

The bands booked tend to be upbeat, fun and always of high quality. Word to the wise: after 10pm the place is crammed so if you’re looking for a quiet pint forget it. Perfect for those looking to jump around, dance and get sweaty with strangers.

2. The Royal Oak

(1 Infirmary St, Edinburgh EH1 1LT)

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Head down South Bridge and at the Chamber Street crossroad and you’ll discover the Royal Oak.

Proclaimed as Edinburgh’s ‘Folk Living Room’ this tiny pub is great for those looking for some authentic local music. The regulars have their seat in the corner in which they take turns playing on an acoustic guitar.

If you happen to know a few tunes yourself the patrons are more than happy to
let you play as well and will often start jamming with you. In addition to a great whisky shelf, on tap they have the original 60, 70 and 80 shilling varieties of McEwan’s Ale – one of the only bars in Edinburgh to do so. Ideal for those wanting a real taste of Scottish pub folk culture.

• READ MORE: A busker’s guide to the best cheap places for food and drink at the Edinburgh Festival

3. The Jazz Bar

(1 Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1HR)

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Picture: The Jazz Bar

The Jazz Bar is quite simply the best place to catch the best music. Don’t be intimidated by the venue’s name – turtle neck sweaters and pencil thin moustaches are not required to enter.

The level of musicianship the acts here possess is hypnotic. The quality is so high that it’s actually hard to focus on anything but the music. This basement bar hosts live music every night until 5am so night owls are more than catered for here.

There’s a great selection of wines and whiskies here, as well as the best
espresso martini in the city – perfect for those late night sessions. Friendly staff, jazz-cool decor and partial seating: it’s a great all-rounder for music aficionados.

There’s a small entry fee on the door, but all of that money goes directly to the acts playing and after witnessing them perform it’s undeniably worth it.

4. Leith Depot

(140 Leith Walk, Edinburgh EH6 5DT)

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Picture: TripAdvisor

If you find yourself in bonnie Leith and want to catch some music the Depot is the place to go. On the bottom half of Leith Walk, the homely bar serves some excellent grub with outdoor seating during the day, while at night the attic bar plays host to a wide variety of quality live music.

The room is small enough to feel intimate and large enough to move around in: a perfect balance. The bar is a big supporter of local produce with plenty of craft and locally brewed beers available.

However, there is a controversial plan to demolish the block in which it’s situated in the near future so head along to experience the place while you still can.

5. Captain’s Bar

(4 S College St, Edinburgh EH8 9AA)

Picture: TripAdvisor

Another cosy folk bar, Captain’s is a hidden beauty. Upon entering you’ll be greeted with a familiar smile like you’ve been frequenting for years. The bar is decorated with nautical memorabilia, Edinburgh history and musical instruments. It’s strictly acoustic in here so no nasty feedback tainting your pint, or one of the many fine whiskies the bar stocks.

IPA’s are popular here, with Deuchars being a Edinburgh-brewed favourite amongst patrons. The warm and welcoming atmosphere is beautiful and often you’ll be swept up in a singalong during the wee hours. You can even buy an official t-shirt, complete with skull and cross bones. Good for those wanting authenticity and a
peaceful pint.

6. The Pear Tree

(38 W Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9DD)

The Pear Tree comes alive during the festival with its giant beer garden being the focal point. On a sunny day it’s full to the brim and all day the stage at the far end has live music every hour on the hour. It’s a more stripped back affair music-wise so conversation is definitely still possible.

The roster of acts is diverse and a lot of official shows use the stage as a promotional tool so you’ll be seeing some of the best the festival has to offer here. There’s a big selection of lagers, ales and spirits on offer so it caters well to all who visit. Highly recommended for an afternoon jar.

Blueswater Presents: Logan’s Close is on from August 16th-18th, 23rd and 24th, 22:40, at theSpace@Symposium.


Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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