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How to Plan an Outdoor Event in Edinburgh

Outdoor Event in Edinburgh

An introduction to Edinburgh

Renowned for its beautiful views, cobbled streets and colourful history, Scotland’s capital offers a multitude of areas and locations to host vibrant and successful outdoor events and festivals. The City of Edinburgh comes alive through its outdoor events; from the famous Christmas Markets taking over Princes’ Street Gardens in the winter and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo outside Edinburgh Castle, to the world-famous summer Fringe Festival spreading across all twelve areas of the city in the month of August. Whilst the city speaks for itself in attracting hundreds of thousands event-goers and spectators, the success of these events must be credited to detailed event planning and crowd management.

As well as hosting the largest arts festival in the world, the city is also host to hundreds of small-scale events. Popular areas include the Meadows the Royal Mile, Stockbridge Markets, Leith, Portobello Beach and Inverleith Park, and host a range of markets, arts and crafts events, fayres, sporting events and festivals.

Where to get started?

With so many beautiful areas in the city, it can be overwhelming to decide on a location for your event. In choosing your location, you should consider;

  • What type of area does your event call for? Are you hosting a sporting event that needs large green spaces, or a smaller market event that needs a small square or section of road?
  • Do you require a licence to host your event?
  • Access to public transport. How accessible is your event location? Can it be reached by foot from the city centre and Waverley Station, or can it be easily accessed by tram or bus?
Edinburgh Event
Outdoor Event in Edinburgh


OnePlan’s map of the city is a useful tool to start with. Powered by Google Maps, you can access street map, satellite, and black and white views of the city, with centimetre accurate zoom. OnePlan’s maps also offer a 3D view of the city, excellent for determining the best location for your event, and planning for any potential uneven surface or hills that may affect your market, festival or event. Furthermore, this manifesto, created by the City Council in 2014, provides a detailed account of the popular areas for event hosting, including space available, ground type, area classification, and contact details of the relevant body or grounds officer.

Crowd Management in Edinburgh

Creating a crowd management plan is key for your outdoor event, festival, or market to be a success. Given the size of the city, it is likely many attendees will arrive by foot or public transport, meaning finding space for parking, and vehicle management, may be secondary. OnePlan’s crowd management and arrival tools enable users to predict and manage crowd flow, by predicting the number of people to arrive at an event in any given time window, and calculate queue times based on the area available. OnePlan’s crowd management tools also enable users to calculate the capacity for your event, both as a whole, and in segments; useful for any outdoor event with stages, stools or markets, or where an area for sport is required. 

Edinburgh Event

Crowd management also includes how live crowds are addressed during your event.  In a report on the assessment of crowd safety at Hogmanay in Edinburgh, the report evaluated that part of the success of the event was due to the “good communication between those in the control centre and their staff on the streets… enabled real-time reports to be fed to the control centre, where the information was co-ordinated and instructions could be issued to ground staff regarding dealing with identified problems.” Keeping live updates of crowd safety and situations is thus another crucial part of crowd management success; OnePlan’s live dot planning and phone user enables you to keep live communications between all staff during any event.

In the Studio, we have options for both satellite and maps so you can visualise your event but also look at the roads around. Plan your marquees on the grass and then your travel on the street view; we also have a Black and White and an OS map option.

Another key factor of your event plan must be accessibility of your event, in particular from Edinburgh Waverley train station and airport. The city is certainly walkable, with the walk from the city centre to Inverleith Park or The Meadows being less than 20 minutes; Edinburgh is therefore perfect for outdoor events, like the Fringe Festival, that may spread out over multiple-areas of the city. In considering this, it is also important, particularly with Edinburgh’s tendency to rain, to look at transportation in the city. Whilst driving is an option, due to the scarcity of parking, it would be encouraged to walk or take public transport to and from events, if the weather does not permit for walking. The Tram, going from St Andrews Square, through the city centre, to the airport, runs every ten minutes, and there are over 50 daytime bus routes, with 12 of them having night-buses too.

The Lothian Bus app is a good tool to use to plan your event, and advise your event goers. OnePlan offers live traffic and transportation updates, meaning at any time before, during or after your event, event planners can track and manage expected delays or transport traffic, and really this to event goers or suppliers. Furthermore, it will take into account any closed roads or transport diversions in light of your event, especially for street markets. This is an extremely useful tool for your event planning.

Permits and Regulations for event planning

The City of Edinburgh Council offers good advice both for planning an event, and the necessary permits and regulations to obtain and follow. It provides guidance for planning an event in a park, such as Inverleith or the Meadows, and the necessary application for Public Liability forms. More information can be found at

Delivering an Event with OnePlan

Some of OnePlan’s tools that will be extremely useful in planning an Outdoor Event in Edinburgh are:

  • Accurate and up to date maps and satellites, including 3D city views
  • Live traffic and road updates
  • Smart Crowd Management and Crowd Flow tools
  • Event Infrastructure, including stages, stools and marquees, crowd areas and food and drink concessions
  • Bill of Quantities to send to event suppliers and the local councilx

“OnePlan is an absolute time saver when it comes to producing and managing an event of any scale. It’s feature packed, super easy to use and provides all the necessary information anyone could ever need about an event. I highly recommend it!”

LA Wild

Phil Morgan

Taunton Live & Pride, Event Organiser, GoCreate

Using OnePlan will enable planners to get the most out of the city of Edinburgh, and create smooth running events that optimise everything Edinburgh has to offer.

Sign up for free and start planning today.

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