The Shore will be turned into a "red light district" this evening for the launch party, as bars and restaurants turn the lights in their windows to red to create a festive atmosphere. Musicians will perform outside Malmaison and the event will close with a lone piper on the roof of the hotel.
Fifty-two venues across Leith will host scores of events throughout the week, celebrating the best – and the worst – of Leith.
Investigating the darker side of the port, the Trainspotting Tours will visit the site of Leith Central Station and other locations made infamous by the novel and film. Comedian and Evening News columnist Susan Morrison will give a humorous talk on the seedier side of Leith's history, and there will even be the chance to take a tour of Seafield cemetery and crematorium.
On the brighter side, there will be community favourites such as the Pooches in the Park dog show in Dalmeny Street Park and Leith Festival Tattoo.
In all, the festival features 22 separate art exhibitions, 60 musical events from Polish DJs to New Orleans jazz, and children's events including readings from author Lari Don and a primary schools' five-a-side football contest.
Festival manager Adele Conn said: "This year a lot of people are commenting that it's a lot more community-oriented, and there's a lovely buzz about it. There seems to be a nicer community cohesion, which is fantastic.
"One thing that I think will be great is the art expo at Ocean Terminal. We've got about 20 artists taking part, and we hope to have a couple of installations by Andrea Geile, who's just come from the Chelsea Flower Show, installed over the weekend or on Monday morning.
"We've got the literature mash-up on Sunday, which is 11 hours of literary events, poetry readings, literary debates and people singing along to songs that have come from books.
"And we've got Peter Kerr, one of Scotland's top travel writers, coming along on Tuesday." Festival chairman Councillor Gordon Munro said: "One of the things I would draw people's attention to is that in comparison to other festivals in the city, Leith is affordable to the local population.
"I think this festival is where Leith comes together. We'll see everybody on the Links on Saturday, and we've moved it around so that Gala Day opens the festival rather than closes it, so people will be able to find out even more about the events over the next eight days."
For full programme details see www.leithfestival.com
Community Opening: Malmaison Plaza – music and dancing, tonight , 7:30-9:30pm
Leith Gala Day and parade: 12 June from 11am at Leith Links, parade starts at noon from Lochend Park.
Under Junction Bridge: The Hermitage Ensemble perform classical music and film soundtracks under Junction Bridge. Bring a picnic and enjoy the outdoors, 13 June, 9- 11pm.
Whores and Sores: Evening News columnist and comedian Susan Morrison delves into the seedier side of Leith's history with her humorous historical talk, 11 and 12 June, 7:30pm, The Waterline, 56 Shore.
Leith Short Film Festival: Catch a few premieres at a fraction of the cost of the EIFF, tonight, 7:30pm, Duncan Place Resource Centre.
Leith Festival Art Expo: Work by around 20 artists on display from today until 20 June, 11am-5pm, Ocean Terminal.
Pooches in the Park: Dog show, 13 June, 1-4pm, Dalmeny Street Park.
Leith Festival Tattoo: Massed pipes and drums, buglers and Leith Community Concert Band 20 June 7:30-9pm at the Piazza, the Shore.