Common Questions

We welcome new entrants to all our classes, but we understand that you may have some questions. Below are the answers to common questions that first time Festival entrants ask us. Please get in touch if there is anything else you want to know about entering for your child, yourself or your ensemble.

What is the Edinburgh Competition Festival?

The Festival is an annual event for amatuer musicians of all ages. We offer competitive and non-competitive classes for instrumentalists, singers and ensembles to perform their pieces in a friendly environment. All our classes are overseen by a specialist adjudicator who provides supportive feedback on the performance.

The Festival was started in 1920 and has been held every year since then with only one exception.

Is the Festival competitive?

We offer a mix of competitive and non-competitive classes. At the competitive classes a winner is selected, and some classes award a special medal or trophy. At the non-competitive classes the emphasis is on enjoying the performances and learning from the experience.

Who can take part?

We have classes for all ages and abilities. For most classes the performers must be amateurs (defined as not having previously received more than travel expenses for performing). There are some classes where teachers can perform alongside pupils and so this rule does not apply (see Regulation 1 in the Syllabus).

We have classes for most classical and traditional instrumentalists playing as soloists, or in duets or ensembles. We also have classes for singers, guitarists, drum kit players, percussionists, composers, choirs, orchestras and bands. We have special classes for show tunes. We also have a creative performance class which is a flexible, non-competitive class for the performance of tune, story or poem using any combination of instruments, speakers or singers.

The full range of classes is listed in the Syllabus.

Who adjudicates the classes?

We have specialist adjudicators for all of our classes. We invite adjudicators who are skilled at providing encouraging feedback as well as being experts in their area. You can read their biographies at the back of the Syllabus.

What level of class should I enter?

The classes are divided into levels, which are based on the performer’s current level of study:

  • Level 1 is for musicians playing at Grades 1-2 standard
  • Level 2 is for musicians playing at Grades 3-4 standard
  • Level 3 is for musicians playing at Grades 5-6 standard
  • Level 4 is for musicians playing at Grades 7-8 standard
  • Those performing at a standard beyond Grade 8 should enter Open classes.

I’m an adult soloist - which class should I enter?

In general, if you are performing at above Grade 8 level, you should enter the Open class for your instrument or singing category.

For piano, strings, guitar, harp, and clarsach, there are non-competitive classes for adults which are open to all levels of player.

Please get in touch if you are unsure which class to enter.

Where is the Festival held?

Classes in the 2020 Festival will be held at Stockbridge Parish Church in Saxe Coburg Street, St. Cuthbert’s Church off Lothian Road, St. Mark’s Unitarian Church in Castle Terrace & St. Andrew’s and St. George’s West in George Street.

We use these churches because they are beautiful venues in the city centre. Our Festival is a secular educational event and has no religious affiliation.

The final concert will be held at the Queen's Hall, Edinburgh.

How much does it cost to enter?

Most classes for soloists are only £8 to enter, with longer recital classes and ensemble classes costing £10 or £15. The concerto class is £25.

How do I enter?

You can enter and pay online: look up the class you wish to enter in the Syllabus document, make a note of the class number, and then search for the class number in the RunMyFestival online entry system.

You can also enter by post and pay by cheque, by picking up a paper Syllabus from a local library or music shop.

See the below for more details:

When will my class be held?

A date and time for the classes will be set once we have processed all the entries and issued the Festival Programme in January. If you enter online then you will be emailed a personal timetable. An outline for the likely dates is on page 3 of the Syllabus.

Can I come and watch a class?

Yes, please do come along and support the performers. All our classes are free for audience members, apart from the final concert.

What is the Concerto Class?

The Concerto class is a unique and special part of our Festival, providing the opportunity for soloists to perform a movement from a concerto with a full orchestral accompaniment.

The competition is in two parts. At the end of January, there is a preliminary round with piano accompaniment. From this round, four finalists will be selected to perform with full orchestra at the final concert in the Queen's Hall, when the winner will be selected.

Please read the requirements for this class in the Syllabus carefully – in particular please note that the choice of concerto is subject to approval and that works with large or complex orchestrations, or for which the availability of orchestral parts has not been clearly established, will not be accepted.

What is the final concert?

The Festival ends with a celebratory concert at the Queen’s Hall. The first half consists of invited highlights selected from the main Festival. The second half is the final round of the Concerto class.

Who runs the Edinburgh Competition Festival?

The Festival is run by the Edinburgh Competition Festival Association, a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO). The objective of the Association is to advance education in the arts, in particular the arts of Music, Speech and Drama. It does this primarily by the holding an annual Festival of competitive and non-competitive classes.

I have another question - who should I ask?

If you have a question about a specific class or section, you can directly email the responsible person using the email addresses listed on page 4 of the Syllabus.

If you aren’t sure who to contact then all queries are welcome to our general email address (