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Getting tickets for the fireworks

Special arrangements apply to the end-of-Festival fireworks, which ring the curtain down on the whole affair in the first week of September. Though most of the crowds have headed for home well before the fireworks go bang, the annual show makes a spectacular final treat for local residents - or those few visitors who have hung around until the very end.

Fireworks over castle
Fireworks over the Castle. Copyright Stuart Buchanan
You can get a perfectly good view of the fireworks without spending any money at all, but the best sightlines and the best atmosphere are found in the fenced-off central viewing area at Princes Street Gardens. Tickets for this part of town are sold by the Edinburgh International Festival - which organizes the fireworks concert as its annual final hurrah.

Ross Bandstand tickets

The very best tickets are for the outdoor seating at the Ross Bandstand, in front of where the orchestra plays. These go on sale with the rest of the EIF's tickets, but are extremely hard to get hold of - realistically, you'll need to sign up for the Festival Muse advanced booking programme to have a decent chance of getting them.

Taking into account the Muse membership fee, and the cost of the tickets themselves, a pair of Ross Bandstand tickets will weigh in at about £100. Of course, you do get other benefits for your Muse membership too, but it's still an expensive undertaking - so most people choose instead to go for the great-value tickets offered in the surrounding Princes Street Gardens.

Princes Street Gardens tickets

Watching the fireworks from Princes Street Gardens is one of the classic experiences of the Edinburgh Festival, and if the weather's kind, makes an incomparable conclusion to the Festival season. A ticket gets you into the gardens, but after that it's a free-for-all to bag a spot of grass; most people show up a couple of hours beforehand, and enjoy a picnic, champagne or just the evening air.

Gardens tickets cost a flat £11 each, and the way they're handed out is pleasingly democratic. You don't have to plan years ahead to get them: they go on sale in three well-planned batches, with the last set unleashed barely a week before the show itself. What's more, everyone has an equal chance of getting one - there's no advanced booking period for Festival supporters.

Fireworks tickets online
"In 2010, the online sale will happen from 11am on 26 July, when tickets will go on sale on the EIF's web site alongside all other International Festival events"

First comes the postal ballot. We're sorry - in 2010, the postal ballot closed on 24 May. For future reference, if you're organized enough to get an application into the postal ballot, anecdotal evidence suggests your chances of success are pretty high; there's a limit of six tickets per application at this stage.

The second stage is the online sale. In 2010, the online sale will happen from 11am on 26 July, when tickets will go on sale on the EIF's web site alongside all other International Festival events. They won't be available for long, but last year, everyone who got their act together to be on the site that morning got the tickets they wanted. There's a limit of four tickets per customer online.

The third and final group of tickets is released in the counter sale, not long before the concert itself. In 2010, the International Festival's Hub box office will open for fireworks tickets at 10am on 29 August - but to stand a chance of getting any, you'll need to be in line much earlier than that. The best-prepared queuers take a deckchair - and some hardy souls even make a night of it. Make no mistake of it: the fireworks queue isn't just a queue, it's a complete social occasion.

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