Annual Meeting 2023 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Shopping, Tours and Attractions


aerial view of st james quarter
Copyright St. James Quarter.

St James Quarter. A large galleria retail shopping centre in the centre of Edinburgh, across the road from Waverley Train station. Home to high street and higher end fashion shops, it is worth a visit to the fourth floor for the Bonnie & Wild Scottish Marketplace, a food hall that’s home to independent restaurants and street food: The St James Quarter also joins onto Multrees Walk, where you’ll find Harvey Nichols and more luxury retail stores.
Across the road from the St James Quarter is Broughton Street, a bohemian street of independent bars, restaurants, delis, and shops, including beautifully curated lifestyle store Lifestory; Curioser and Curioser, a haven for stylish Scottish souvenirs; and purveyor of Scottish yarns Kathy’s Knits.

In the New Town, you’ll find The Scottish Gallery on Dundas Street, home to changing exhibitions of fine art, jewellery, craft, and decorative arts, with a selection of jewellery on sale downstairs. Head North into the backstreets behind Princes Street to seek out fashion accessories store Covet on Thistle Street; Hill Street Design House, a New Town venue with Georgian interior which hosts exhibits, pop-up shops, workshops, masterclasses, product launches and parties; and George Street, one of Edinburgh’s higher end shopping streets.

On the edge of Stockbridge, as you head South from the New Town onto Howe Street, you’ll find beautiful homeware stores Homer and Style Your Spaces, as well as Scottish Candle shop, Melrose Candle Co. Head deeper into Stockbridge for independent menswear designer Kestin, unique homewares and gifts at Edinburgh Mercantile Ltd, beautiful florists, delis, and famous cheesemongers I. J. Mellis, and some of the city’s best charity shops. On Sundays it is home to Stockbridge Market, displaying crafts, gifts, street food and grocers’ stalls. Keep an eye out for St Stephen Street, home to vegan fashion retailer Treen, curated fine jewellery at Aetla, a diverse range of vinyl at VoxBox Music, and independent book shop Golden Hare Books. It’s also where you’ll find Space at Seventeen, a pop-up space that supports small design businesses, and some of the best vintage shops in the city – Those Were the Days Vintage, Elaine’s Vintage Clothing and Miss Bizio Couture.

Bruntsfield place is the main throughfare in the Bruntsfield neighbourhood, home to independent gift shops and unique homewares, as well as a good selection of charity shops.

Newington and the Southside is home to one branch of Armstrong’s Vintage, one of Edinburgh’s most famous vintage emporiums, as well as fabric shops like Edinburgh Fabrics and Cotton & Chintz.

You’ll find another branch of Armstrong’s only a short walk away in the Grassmarket, where on Saturdays there’s a market selling fine Scottish food and drink, alongside handmade gifts, and souvenirs. Heading towards the Grassmarket from the museum you pass through Candlemaker Row, home to Little Blue Door Vintage. Nearby Victoria Street, a steep and winding street that connects the Grassmarket back up to George IV bridge, is packed with independent boutiques including clothing shop Swish; Walker Slater menswear; upmarket store, Anta, selling hand-crafted Scottish furniture and homeware, plus classic clothing; another branch of I.J. Mellis; The Whisky Shop; Red Door gallery, selling a selection of arts, crafts and jewellery by Scottish artists, and John Kay’s antiques. In the heart of the Grassmarket is Hawico, which specialises in Scottish cashmere knits, and has a wide variety of sweaters, jackets, and hats to choose from. Carrying on out the other side of the Grassmarket, heading toward Tollcross, you’ll come across Carnivàle Vintage; Godiva, which carries indie designer fashion as well as pre-loved vintage and repurposed clothes; and Herman Brown, a vintage clothing store specialising in high-end clothing and accessories from the 1930s to 1990s.

The Royal Mile is naturally home to an abundance of souvenir and fabric outlet shops, some better than others. Keep an eye out for 21st Century Kilts, a designer boutique for quirky, off-the-peg and bespoke kilts from tartan and contemporary textiles; Prickly Thistle, Scotland’s first and only B Corp Certified textiles mill and clothing manufacturer; Scottish Textiles Showcase (on St Mary’s Street) and Ragamuffin (on Canongate), a stylish boutique with an eclectic range of British and Irish designer knitwear, plus accessories. The roads leading off the mile are also just as inviting. On Cockburn Street, another steep and winding road this time connecting the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Waverley train station, you’ll find Pie in the Sky vintage among a wealth of other independent retailers, and on neighbouring Jeffrey Street, there’s Corniche, Edinburgh’s original designer label boutique offering creations from the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, Yohji Yamamoto, Katherine Hamnett, and Comme des Garçons.

If you want to venture slightly further afield, ‘Leith Walk’ which connects the city to the former Port town of Leith is home to plenty of charity shops, as well as Folly’s antiques, and vintage clothing and homewares including Epoca Modern Era Vintage Clothing, 5th Season Vintage, and Pascal & Co. If you head further towards the shore (worth it to visit the vibrant bars and restaurants along the water if the weather is nice, or if you have any interest in visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia – see attractions below), there you’ll find the Kinloch Anderson highlandwear store, a haven for traditionally crafted kilts and clothing, fabric, and gifts.

Tucked away in Edinburgh’s West End, William Street and Stafford Street are worth a visit for independent retailers including Frontiers, a long-established designer boutique stocking a vast range of women’s designer clothing from brands such as Ganni, RIXO, Shrimps, YMC, Folk and many more.

Tourist Attractions, Tours, and Excursions

If you are interested in arranging your own excursions or travel around Scotland before or after the conference, Trip Organiser are a small family-run company who operate several, both in Edinburgh – encapsulating some of the city’s most famous sights including Edinburgh Castle, St Giles Cathedral, Holyrood Palace, and Arthur’s Seat – and further afield. They’ll also happily tailor a trip to your interests and tours can be provided in other languages. More information can be found here:
We can recommend the New Lanark industrial History day trip, taking in a visit to New Lanark Mill and Museum, which tells the fascinating story of the 18th century cotton mill village of New Lanark.

Other museums in nearby cities:

The V&A Dundee: The exhibition Tartan will be showing until January 2024: Dundee is approx. 1.5 hours from Edinburgh by train and an off-peak return ticket costs £30.70.

The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum is a Gothic Revival-style building, located in the centre of Dundee, Scotland. The building houses a museum and art gallery with a collection of fine and decorative art as well as a natural history collection:

Glasgow Life: A group of 11 venues including Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum – with 22 galleries, discover everything from art to animals, Ancient Egypt to Charles Rennie Mackintosh and so much more. Glasgow is under an hour from Edinburgh by train with a return ticket costing just under £20.

Edinburgh attractions:

Mary King’s Close is a historic close located underneath the buildings on the Royal Mile, in the historic Old Town area of Edinburgh, Scotland. It took its name from one Mary King, a merchant burgess who resided on the Close in the 17th century:

Edinburgh Castle is a historic castle standing on Castle Rock, which has been occupied by humans since at least the Iron Age, although the nature of the early settlement is unclear. Visitors can see the famous Honours of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, Mons Meg, the Royal Palace, the Great Hall, St Margaret’s Chapel, and the One O’Clock Gun. The complex includes entry to the National War Museum. Cheapest to book ahead online.

Gladstone’s Land is a surviving 17th-century high-tenement house situated in the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. It has been restored and furnished by the National Trust for Scotland and is operated as a popular tourist attraction.

Palace of Holyroodhouse is The King’s official residence in Edinburgh and the home of Scottish royal history.

Dovecot Studios is a landmark gallery and museum for contemporary art, design, and textiles in Edinburgh, built around a world-renowned tapestry studio, with a changing programme of exhibitions.

National Galleries of Scotland Encompassing the Modern One, Modern Two, Portrait and National Galleries, NGS is spread across the city from the West End to the city centre, home to vibrant collections of fine art, sculpture, photography and more, featuring artists ranging from Titian, Rembrandt and Vermeer to Monet and Van Gogh and from Picasso, Hockney and Warhol through to Bridget Riley, Peter Doig and Alberta Whittle.

Royal Scottish Academy

Museums & Galleries Edinburgh encompasses 13 venues throughout the city, many in A and B listed buildings. They include Lauriston Castle, a 16th century tower house with early 19th century additions set in stunning grounds overlooking the Firth of Forth, The Scott Monument, The Writer’s Museum, and the Museum of Childhood.

Calton Hill is located only a few metres off the east end of Princes Street, Calton Hill is a public park housing several Greek-style historical monuments and landmarks. It is one of the best places in Edinburgh to get a panoramic view of the city’s dramatic skyline.

Arthur’s Seat. Created by volcanic activity 335 million years ago, Arthur’s Seat sits at the edge of the historic Royal Mile, next to Holyrood Palace, in the Holyrood Park which spreads across a vast area of 650 acres. The highest point of the park is Arthur’s Seat at 251 metres. It’s a steep climb to the top, but the views are unmatched. Alternatively, book a day trip with Trip Organiser as there is road access around the perimeter and the views from there are stunning.

Royal Yacht Britannia. Moored in Leith, this royal vessel has sailed one million nautical miles and hosted several State Receptions and dignitaries, and a few Royal honeymoons. Launched by Queen Elizabeth II on 16 April 1953, she served the royal family for over 40 years.

St Giles Cathedral was founded in 1124 and is one of the most prominent historic buildings in Edinburgh. Guided rooftop tours are also available.

The Royal Botanic Garden is a mile away from the city centre. Founded in 1670, it is one of the oldest gardens in the UK and covers more than 70 acres of green space and is home to more than 13,500 species of living plants.

edinburgh castle
Copyright Edinburgh Castle

If you want a hand copy of this document, please download the ICOM Costume Conference Edinburgh Information.