While Edinburghers love a wee bevvie at the pub and sure know how to turn the heat up, sometimes we either just don’t fancy a drink, or just stop drinking altogether. Whether you’re doing dry January or are completely tee-total, there are plenty of tantalisingly exciting activities to be done around the Scottish capital. So, we’ve summoned up a cheerful list of alcohol-free things to do in Edinburgh this season.
To start off the year right, many of us have set goals to deepen our self-care practices, work on ourselves, exercise more or simply live more sustainably. The wholesome community event, Flare Festival, which encourages just that is coming to the Scottish capital this January 20 and 21, and it’s going to be filled with love, comedy, yoga, meditation, holistic practices and more of all that sweet stuff. Flare Festival is set to be an exhilarating one, taking place at Edinburgh’s Summerhall, with a generous line-up of heart-warming events, empowering workshops, live DJ sets, plenty of local business stalls and an alcohol-free bar where guests can try out various alternatives. What is more, the festival will culminate with a rave, where friends and strangers alike can dance their troubles away.
This one is a must-see for every theatre fan out there: Shrek The Musical, the award-winning Broadway and West End hit show, features all the classic characters from the Oscar-winning DreamWorks animated film and the nostalgic songs and story from David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori’s original musical. Shrek The Musical is on a UK tour, and they’re playing in Edinburgh Playhouse between January 22 and 27. Expect all the hits including ‘I’m A Believer’, ‘Big Bright Beautiful World’ and ’I Know It’s Today’. You can book your tickets here.
A brand new mega eye-catchy café has just opened in St James Quarter in Edinburgh, and it’s called EL&N. Covered entirely in pink hues, the spot was deemed the ‘most instagrammable café in the world’, and we’re obsessed with every single cute corner. Together with an impressive ensemble of colourful drinks and picture-worthy lattes, the menu has everything from pink waffles to eggs and even shakshuka, as well as an array of sweet treats.
Edinburgh’s most picturesque venues will light up with the soft glow of candlelight this February, echoing with the familiar tributes to our favourite artist’s anthems like you’ve never heard them before. For those looking for alcohol-free things to do in the heart of the city, a Candlelight concert is a unique option for a special live music fix. Expect tributes to artists like Taylor Swift, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and Ludovico Einaudi. You can book your tickets here.
5. See a stand-up comedy show at The Stand
Every Monday, The Stand Comedy Club hosts Red Raw: an open-mic night where anyone can sign up. It will be the first time on stage for some of the acts, as well as more seasoned performers trying out new material. The event is considered the best open-mic night in the UK and you will have a great time no matter what. The entry is only £5 so do book in advance as it does get busy.
Who said you can’t go to a bar just because you’re not drinking? One of the best ways we’ve found to let your inner child roam free in Edinburgh is at Ballie Ballerson’s ball pit for adults. Ballie Ballerson is open on Forrest Road, in the site of the old McSorley’s Irish Bar, where it’s spread over two floors and is now ready to welcome up to 300 ballers. You have to be sober enough to drive to be able to enter the ball pit anyway, so it’s one of the best alcohol-free things to do out there. Plus, there’s a huge slide you can go down on after you’re done throwing balls into your pal’s head and nearly drowning in said balls, especially if you’re short like me.
Edinburgh has an abundance of historic attractions and the whole of old town is UNESCO World Heritage site. The best way to get to know Scotland’s history is through the city’s top museums, and whether you’re interested in history, art, or both, there is something for everyone. Check out the Doctor Who Worlds of Wonder exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland, or visit the Camera Obscura illusions museum for a more colourful experience. You can also check out our full guide to Edinburgh’s best museums, making for plenty of alcohol-free things to do in our Ould Reekie.
8. Eat sushi and teppanyaki at this Japanese fusion spot described as ‘the best restaurant outside of Japan’
There isn’t a Japanese place in Edinburgh with better reviews than Chizuru Tei in Haymarket. According to recent diners, it is the ‘best sushi they have ever had’ and some described it as the ‘best Japanese restaurant outside of Japan’. So, why not see it for yourself at this cosy food spot with colourful wall art. The menu is reasonably priced and is the dream for Japanese cuisine lovers. Plus, they have green tea ice cream and plenty of Japanese soft drinks like Kimura Ramune and Calpis.
9. Watch the latest films at this independent cinema with couches
When it comes to alcohol-free things to do, going to the cinema is an obvious choice. But at Everyman Cinema, you can make your dream of lounging around on the couch while having a professional cinematic experience come true. There’s also great food to take into the cinema as you’re catching all the current films (yes, they’re showing the new Avatar), as well as older classics. By the way, their décor simply stunning and is what I want my house to look like, except with fewer couches. You can find their full list of movies here.
Fayre Play is a place for funfair games, street food and catch-ups with your mates. The course here takes inspiration from old-school funfairs with all the classic games, starting with Skee-Baw with its roll-up ramp. On your way around, hook a duck, play Slam Dunk and let your anger out by hitting the little critters at Cannae Whack It. Plus, there are board games in the downstairs bar!