Edinburgh International Festival is back

The Edinburgh International Festival is back – live and outdoors in some of Edinburgh’s most historic and picturesque settings, with a programme of events that are diverse and inspiring, providing a joyful route back to live performance. So what can you look forward to? First up, Directors Fergus Linehan and Francesca Hegyi take you through the 2021 programme:


And now lets take a look at some of the highlights across the newly created venues for this year's festival - Edinburgh Academy Junior School, Old College Quad and Edinburgh Park - before looking at some of the other performing arts highlights.

Edinburgh Academy Junior School

EIF  - Nicola

A new specially constructed covered pavilion on the grounds of Edinburgh Academy Junior School provides a relaxed and safe performance environment. Enjoy moving orchestral music, poignant and sometimes riotous concert opera and a spirited musical gala to remember in this scenic Edinburgh location, including:

  • The BBC Symphony Orchestra launches the 2021 International Festival’s orchestral series with a concert full of the sun, wit and inspiration of Italy, plus a brand new commission from Anna Clyne, one of today’s most emotionally involving composers
  • Musical jokes are high on the agenda from the esteemed musical partnership of Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra
  • Strauss’s comedy Ariadne Auf Naxos about high art and low art, life, love and fidelity gets a brand new concert staging by the.brilliant young director Louisa Muller with a cast including the revered German soprano Dorothea Röschmann
  • Performed on period instruments, Dido’s Ghost bridges the gap between worlds, as past blurs into present, and memory becomes emotion, in a new blending of ancient and modern
  • Nicola Benedetti begins her three-concert International Festival residency with a concert revealing the multifaceted musical creations of Vivaldi, joined by the Benedetti Baroque Orchestra of specially selected period-instrument players

Old College Quad

EIF - Cummings

The Edinburgh International Festival takes up residence in the Old College Quad, celebrating its long association with The University of Edinburgh through a varied programme this August. Enjoy chamber music, trad sessions, spoken word and cabaret in our specially constructed covered pavilion. Performances include

  • Middle-aged Scottish polymath Alan Cumming explores the mores of ageing and rages against the rejuvenescence machine. In song obviously [Image Credit: Josh Going]
  • A season of traditional Scottish music in its most raw and powerful form, In the Tradition features concerts by some of Scotland’s best-loved ensembles and soloists
  • Playing entirely from memory gives the Zehetmair Quartet’s performances a uniquely vivid, invigorating quality that communicates the music’s meaning without the barrier of sheet music
  • The first female winner of the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition back in 2014, Georgian-born Mariam Batsashvili is one of the most compelling keyboard talents around today
  • In partnership with the Edinburgh International Book Festival, A Toast to the People, will see inspirational spoken word artists present 'live' their ideas of what a new word order might bemight be

Edinburgh Park

EIF - Albarn

The Edinburgh International Festival takes up residence in a new location in the west of the city thanks to a partnership with Parabola and support from Sir Ewan and Lady Brown. Our contemporary music programme comes alive at the purpose-built outdoor venue in Edinburgh Park, with groundbreaking artists from Scotland, the UK and beyond performing a series of dynamic concerts, including:

  • A rare solo appearance from the eclectic musician and composer, Damon Albarn, featuring music from new work The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows [Image Credit: Linda Brownlee]
  • Indie folk singer-songwriter Kathryn Joseph’s debut Bones you have thrown me and blood I’ve spilled won Scottish Album of the Year in 2015
  • Anna Meredith returns to Edinburgh with her live band to perform her second album FIBS, a bright crossover of pop and orchestral tropes
  • The Northumbrian folk collective The Unthanks, fronted by sisters Rachel and Becky Unthanks, has a focus on traditional English folk styles, but exploring many other forms and styles
  • Bringing feelgood Afrobeat music from London, Kokoroko takes its name from the Nigerian Urhobo dialect and last year won Best Group at the Urban Music Awards

Misc Venues & Digital

EIF - Lament

  • Lament for Sheku Bayoh [Royal Lyceum Theatre]: ʻNo problem here pal. None at all.ʼ In the early hours of the morning, 31 year-old Sheku Bayoh set out to walk home from his friend’s place after watching a boxing match. Just hours later, he had lost his life in police custody. Lament for Sheku Bayoh is a poetic expression of grief for the human behind the headlines and a non-apologetic reflection on racism in Scotland today
  • Medicine [Traverse Theatre]: Domhnall Gleeson leads a formidable cast in a new play from revered Irish playwright Enda Walsh. Medicine is a dark and frequently absurdist work that shatters the boundary between cast and audience; actors are interrupted by crew members, technical mechanics happen on stage and performance becomes a kind of therapy
  • Falstaff [Festival Theatre]: Scottish Opera returns to the International Festival with a new production by Glasgow-born director Sir David McVicar, specially adapted from the outdoor presentation – a riotous comedy that’s as wise as it is witty.
  • Dancing in the Streets [in partnership with Dancebase]: The Festival has commissioned four of the world’s most acclaimed choreographers, Alice Ripoll from São Paulo, Omar Rajeh from Beirut, Gregory Maqoma from Soweto and Janice Parker from Edinburgh, to create short films with their dancers, responding to the past year and reflecting on their relationship with their home cities
  • Niqabi Ninja: combining street artwork, audio-story performance and a walk through your city, Niqabi Ninja is a graphic-novel style revenge story written in reaction to the 2012–2014 mob sexual assaults in Tahrir Square, Cairo - and resented simultaneously in five locations across Scotland.

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