International Festival 2016 - young audiences

EIF Youth Chotto Raw 975x400

Edinburgh International Festival's programme for 2016 includes an exceptional range of world-class arts across theatre, opera, music, dance and more - and it's not just for grownups. Here's our look at what's on offer for younger audiences this August.

At its recent launch, the International Festival (5-29 August 2016) was described by Artistic Director, Fergus Linehan, as "an unparalleled celebration of creativity, virtuosity and originality" - and these values apply just as strongly to the festival's commitment to creative learning.

Shows for young audiences

In Chotto Desh (above left), Akram Khan reworks his Olivier Award-winning show DESH into a piece aimed at families, in a fusion of dance, storytelling, music and interactive animation. The story of a young boy in Bangladesh who dreams of becoming a dancer, the production also includes magical scenes exploring ideas of homeland and identity, with incredible animations of animals and insects.

More dance comes from in the form of Raw (above right), from Kabinet K of Belgium, in which a gang of children live their lives in a strange, destitute landscape of rubble and decay. The group, aged from 8-12, band together against an unseen, unknown threat, until the arrival of two adults changes their world. The show is described as "a work for young people and adults" and promises high-energy dance-theatre from its young cast. 

EIF Youth Anything Alan C 975x400

Schools activity 

Taking the Festival out into the community is The Art of Listening in which thousands of school pupils are encouraged to develop their listening skills through classical music, in a programme that has been running for almost 20 years. 

More schools activity includes work with primary school children across Edinburgh in relation to the production Anything That Gives Off Light (above left), and the International Festival's 3-year residency at Castlebrae Community High School which features events and workshops, mentoring and work experience. This year, Scottish performer Alan Cumming (above right) will visit the school to talk to pupils and staff about his life on stage and screen.

In its Young Musician's Passport scheme, the Festival offers opportunities for young people from Edinburgh and the Lothians to witness live performances by some of the world's finest musicians. There's also a special performance from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in the Virgin Money Schools Concert. Taking place on the morning of the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert (below left), this event brings schools to Princes Street Gardens to enjoy classical music.

EIF Youth Fireworks Deep Time 975x400

Open Air Events

Speaking of the fireworks, families are sure to flock to the end-of-festival spectacular, where the SCO will perform the music of Prokofiev, Bernstein and Shostakovich accompanied by the expertly choreographed pyrotechnics above. Thousands will fill Princes Street Gardens to witness the amazing display of sight and sound taking place above Edinburgh Castle and in the gardens below.

While the fireworks concert brings the festival to a close, another huge open air event will open proceedings, in the shape of Deep Time (above right). Following in the footsteps of 2015's incredible Harmonium Project, Deep Time will deliver an epic show of lighting, music and animation, projected onto the canvas of Edinburgh Castle and the 350 million year old rock beneath. 

A celebration of geologist James Hutton, whose work led to the understanding that Earth was billions of years old, Deep Time celebrates his, and Edinburgh's, role in advancing our knowledge of the past.

And in Songlines, the entire city is encouraged to take part in a unique celebration of singing, as a global and unifying trait of being human. Sunday 21 August will see opportunities for everyone to take part in singing and listening to song, in a range of unexpected venues and spaces. More details are expected in July.

Discounts for Young People 

As well as the events detailed above, there is of course a huge programme of art and culture to be enjoyed by all - and to help encourage younger audiences to experience the world-class work on offer, the International Festival offers half price tickets for under 18s and Young Scot Cardholders, on selected performances. 

From 6 July, students in full time education can buy selected tickets at a discount of 30%, and all under 26s can pay just £8 on the day for selected performances.

Edinburgh International Festival takes place from Friday 5 to Monday 29 August. Find out more about the Festival, including programme and ticket booking details.

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