The Edinburgh International Festival celebrates its 70th anniversary this year and has a packed programme of entertainment for visitors to enjoy. It opens 4th August and runs through to Monday 28th August. It will welcome over 2,000 artists from 40 nations to perform in Scotland’s capital city.

The Edinburgh International Festival begins with a free, public outdoor event on Friday 4th August. The Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom is a large scale art event that celebrates the explosion of colour, vibrancy and optimism that supported the arrival of the International Festival in 1947 and its subsequent cultural influence in Edinburgh and the rest of the world. The event brings together illuminations and projections in a central Edinburgh location produced for the third time by 59 Productions.

The theatre productions include a co-production with The Old Vic theatre – which performed at the very first Festival in 1947 – with a World Premiere from a well-loved playwright Alan Ayckbourn. The Divide conjures a post-catastrophic Britain where contact between men and women has become fatal; and is presented in two parts at the King’s Theatre over two weeks.

In a special season, leading Scottish theatre companies the Citizens Theatre, Royal Lyceum Theatre and the Traverse Theatre Company present works which consider the origins of European drama from a contemporary perspective. Each examines, in different ways, the fragility of human relationships, society and civilisation. The work of Edinburgh-based playwright Zinnia Harris underpins all three productions: Oresteia: This Restless House from the Citizens Theatre, a reimagining of Aeschylus’s 2,500-year-old drama; and a new adaptation of Eugene Ionesco’s comment on the rise of extremism. Rhinoceros from the Royal Lyceum Theatre with DOT Theatre of Turkey, and the world premiere of new work Meet me at Dawn from the Traverse Theatre Company.

The contemporary music programme features artists including singer-songwriter and Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker with Chilly Gonzalez, The Magnetic Fields, Mercury Prize winners PJ Harvey and Benjamin Clementine, Sitar star Anoushka Shankar and a celebration of the music of Edinburgh’s own The Incredible String Band.

 Australian chanteuse and Edinburgh favourite Meow Meow presents Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid, in a subversive re-telling of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. This shimmering ‘underwater’ cabaret is staged nightly at International Festival HQ The Hub, throughout August.

An expanded opera programme presents works from all ages and for all appetites. The nine operas will appeal to both seasoned fans and opera newcomers alike. Highlights include classic operas Puccini’s La boheme, Verdi’s Macbeth, and Mozart’s Don Giovanni, while concert performances in the Usher Hall feature world class singers including Sir Bryn Terfel, Christine Goerke, Stuart Skelton, Erin Wall and Karen Cargill.

 World-leading orchestras visiting this year’s Festival include the Filarmonica della Scala with Riccardo Chailly, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Edward Gardner, the Halle Orchestra and Sir Mark Elder, the Philharmonia Orchestra with Sir Andrew Davis and the Budapest Festival Orchestra with Music Director Ivan Fischer. World-leading soloists include Nicola Benedetti, Joshua Bell and Mitsuko Uchida.

 Nederlands Dans Theatre, returns to Edinburgh after an 11 year absence, and hip-hop lands at The Lyceum Theatre with East London’s Boy Blue Entertainment. Boy Blue also performs at Castlebrae Community High School which is turned into a performance venue for the first time, the culmination of a three-year residency between the International Festival and the school. Senior pupils have been learning about the skills required to run an event venue and will support the Festival team to deliver the performances.

The International Festival will once again be brought to a spectacular conclusion on Monday 28 August with the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert, when over 400,000 fireworks will burst into the sky above Edinburgh Castle, choreographed to live music from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.


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Images: VisitBritain/eif.