Edinburgh International Festival

The one that started it all off – make sure to see some of the fantastic work in the Edinburgh International Festival.

Usher Hall Audience Cr Stuart Armitt

[Image credit: Stuart Armitt]

Dates for 2022 TBC

About the Edinburgh International Festival

Since 1947, the Edinburgh International Festival has brought powerful and significant work to delight and challenge the capital’s residents and visitors. Packed into just over 3 weeks of intense cultural opportunity are superb examples of artistic expression from around the world, with performances of top class opera, theatre, dance and classical music.

Experience some of Edinburgh’s grandest venues, and to complement the performances on offer, a range of participatory events, talks, screenings and conversations with the artists themselves.

You could argue that Edinburgh International Festival was the one that started it all. In 1947, Rudolf Bing (at the time General Manager of the Glyndebourne Opera), Henry Harvey Wood from the British Council and leaders from Edinburgh banded together to collate a festival programme of music and drama.

Tasked with the job of encouraging the 'flowering of the human spirit' in post-war Scotland, and in the decades since, it has cultivated a veritable garden of human creativity. At the centre was the Edinburgh International Festival itself, which in turn inspired many of Edinburgh's other festivals to establish their own presences - all helping to earn the Scottish capital its nickname, the Festival City.

From the beginning, the organisers of the Edinburgh International Festival encouraged artists not part of the official programme to come to Edinburgh and perform. It was from these performances that The Edinburgh Festival Fringe was born, and even more diverse festivals followed. Now, Edinburgh is the proud host to twelve major festivals and a year long schedule - making this truly the festival city! 

At the Edinburgh International Festival, all of human experience is available for exploration, in performances that effortlessly combine the traditional and time-tested with inventive, modern techniques. Powerful theatre pieces delve into tragedy and war; sumptuous dances flirt with romance and heartbreak; opera singers project the sound of protest; orchestras transport us through vistas of religion, love and death.

Performers hail from Australia, South Africa, Canada, Russia, Germany, Poland and a myriad of other nations, creating a truly international festival experience. And as well as the international productions, the EIF commissions the best Scottish companies to create new and expressive works that capture the national imagination, sparking discussion and allowing visitors to discover Scotland in inventive ways.

The Edinburgh International Festival is dedicated to being accessible to all sectors of society, offering tickets at a range of prices and multiple concessions, ensuring everyone and anyone can enjoy these wonderful productions. 


Virgin Money Fireworks Concert

Festival Fireworks Concert Cr Stuart Armitt

[Image credit: Stuart Armitt]

The grand finale of the Edinburgh International Festival is a longstanding favourite of locals and visitors alike, with hundreds gathering in Princes Street Gardens to enjoy a live classical music performance accompanied by expertly choreographed fireworks shooting from the castle ramparts above.

For those unable to secure tickets for the gardens themselves, the fireworks are visible from range of vantage points throughout the city. With the concert broadcast live on local radio, the spectacular combination of fine music and awe inspiring fireworks is enjoyed by thousands more than can possibly be there close up. Great spots to enjoy the show include Inverleith Park (some distance away to the north of the city centre but with a fabulous view of the castle) and Calton Hill, overlooking the city centre and the castle from the east.

To round off the Edinburgh International Festival and the summer festivals season as a whole, the fireworks display is a truly phenomenal sight and a festival must.


This page was created in collaboration with our friends at Festivals Edinburgh. Have a look at their website for more information on the fantastic festivals our city has to offer.

Forever Edinburgh: Loving every moment of the Edinburgh International Festival. 

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