Edinburgh International Festival

The one that started it all off. An unparalleled celebration of the performing arts, for 3 weeks in August each year, the Edinburgh International Festival presents some of the finest performers and ensembles from the worlds of dance, opera, music and theatre.

Usher Hall Audience Cr Stuart Armitt

[Image credit: Stuart Armitt]

Edinburgh International Festival runs from 04 - 27 August 2023.

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 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.

History of the Edinburgh International Festival

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 yearlong schedule - making this truly the festival city!

Dance, opera, music and theatre

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, Germany, Poland and a myriad of other nations, creating a truly international festival experience. And as well as the international productions, the EIF commission 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.

Fireworks Concert

Festival Fireworks Concert Cr Stuart Armitt

[Image credit: Stuart Armitt]

The grand finale of EIF 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.

If you are unable to get tickets for this popular event, don’t despair as the fireworks are visible from several 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 and Calton Hill.

Discover more about the Edinburgh International Festival and plan your 2023 trip > 


This page was created in collaboration with our friends at Festivals Edinburgh.

Edinburgh has a jam-packed festival schedule all year around. Whether you love the arts, are mad about science, or relish the thought of getting lost in a good book, there’s a festival for you. Take a look at our guide to Edinburgh’s Festivals >