Highlights of the 2024 Edinburgh International festival

Last year, the Edinburgh International Festival asked the question, ‘Where do we go from here?’, to anchor their August programme. In 2024, in response to the thousands of artists and audience members who replied with the necessity for unity, the Festival invites you to participate in Rituals That Unite Us.

From 2-25 August 2024, the Edinburgh International Festival presents a hand-picked selection of leading international and local artists in the world’s Festival City, with 24 days of world-class opera, dance, music and theatre. The 2024 programme comprises 161 performances from over 2000 artists across 42 nations, all joined under the theme, ‘Rituals That Unite Us’.

Audiences can enjoy a virtual reality experience filmed within an orchestra, a site-specific promenade opera and, by popular demand, an expanded programme of beanbag concerts placing the audience among performers to experience music in a unique way. The programme also features an all-ages family concert, a participatory dance and music work outside The Scottish Parliament, and post-show talks with artists in The Hub, returning with a bigger programme as the International Festival’s home and ‘green room’. This year the venue will be open to the public for informal dining, drop-in rehearsals and Up Late performances.

Inspired by philosopher Byung-Chul Han’s book The Disappearance of Rituals, the Festival explores the importance of collective experiences to bind us closer together. To guide you through the expansive programme, we’ve curated an itinerary of 13 unmissable events at the 2024 International Festival.

The Fifth Step [21 to 25 August]

BAFTA-nominated Scottish actor Jack Lowden stars in the leading role of the world premiere of David Ireland’s latest play, The Fifth Step. The grimly comic play follows Luka as he navigates a difficult journey to sobriety and faces his past transgressions on route.

Songs of the Bulbul [9 to 11 August]

Aakash Odedra presents a spiritual and captivating dance piece that explores an ancient Sufi myth about a captured songbird. A mediative dialogue between the Indian classical dance Sufi Kathak and Islamic poetry in this world premiere.

Man dancing among cascading red flower petals

Penthesilea [3 to 6 August]

International Theater Amsterdam bring their sexy and ferocious production of Heinrich von Kleist’s Penthesilea to the International Festival. In a society where only female warriors can have sex with men they have defeated in battle, star-crossed lovers wrestle between cultural traditions and the wishes of their hearts.

Carmen [4 to 8 August]

One of five operas we are presenting this year, Opéra-Comique’s fresh production of Georges Bizet's most-famous opera comes to the International Festival directly from the Parisian opera house where it all began. Passion and jealousy overpower the soldier Don José as he falls for our titular heroine, Carmen.

Mahler 5 Inside Out [16 August]

Our beloved beanbag concerts have not only returned to this year’s Festival but multiplied! Recline on a beanbag and be surrounded by the epic music of Gustav Mahler as the Hallé Orchestra guide you through the construction of the Fifth Symphony. The following day, the orchestra perform the same mighty symphony it its entirety, tracing a path from darkness to light.

Fire in my mouth [21 August]

During their International Festival residency, the Philharmonia and the female singers of the National Youth Choir of Scotland unite for the UK premiere of Julia Wolfe’s Fire in my mouth. This impassioned elegy for the victims of New York’s 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire is conducted by Marin Alsop and enhanced by a multimedia set designed by Tony Award® winner Jeff Sugg.

Group of women wearing blue dresses, holding scissors in the air above their heads

Family Concert [25 August]

Our Festival Director Nicola Benedetti joins Philharmonia as solo violinist in this family-friendly rendition of an instantly recognisable piece of classical music. Ralph Vaughan Williams's The Lark Ascending transforms the skylark’s other-worldly song into a symbol of resilience.

Cat Power [18 August]

The infinitely gifted singer-songwriter Chan Marshall – AKA Cat Power – takes on Bob Dylan’s legendary 1966 ‘Royal Albert Hall’ gig. From ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ to ‘Like a Rolling Stone’, this is a song-by-song recreation of Dylan’s set list.

Woman with hair blowing over face wearing suit looking at camera

Bat for Lashes [23 August]

Indie pop sensation Natasha Khan – better known as Bat for Lashes – unveils new songs from her latest album, The Dream of a Delphi. Named after her young daughter, the album stems from the ‘cosmic resonance’ of her personal experience of becoming a mother.

The Outrun [31 July to 24 August]

In yet another world premiere from Scottish talent, Amy Liptrot’s best-selling memoir is brought to life in an epic and elemental production by the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh. This urgent retelling speaks to the impact of isolation and loneliness and – ultimately – the resilience of people.

Mànran [10 August]

Multi award-winning folk supergroup Mànran have been at the heart of the Scottish traditional music scene for over a decade. Their invigorating live performances combine an eclectic range of instruments – from bagpipes to accordion, fiddle to flute – all enhanced by their transfixing vocals in both Gaelic and English. Mànran perform in our Festival home, The Hub, where we celebrate deep rooted classical traditions from around the world.

Two men dressed in armour holding sword over another, others reaching inwards towards them in framed scene

Assembly Hall [22 to 24 August]

Combining Arthurian cosplay and emotive contemporary dance, Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young present their major new dance work, following their Olivier Award-winning piece Revisor. When a group of medieval re-enactors gather for their Annual General Meeting, the boundaries between past and present, reality and myth crumble.

Yuja Wang 5 August]

Yuja Wang started playing piano at six years old and shot to fame in her teens. Today’s spirited piano superstar, she returns to the International Festival for a solo recital of virtuoso masterpieces encompassing the genres of classical, Romantic, impressionist and contemporary.

You can broswe the programme online HERE or download the full brochure HERE, with tickets on sale from Thursday 21 March.

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