News - Edinburgh International Festival

Edinburgh International Festival has announced a reimagined festival for 2021 which marks the return of live performance to Scotland’s capital... 

Press Release

Taking place from 7th to 29th August, the 2021 International Festival will use bespoke outdoor venues to safely reunite artists and audiences to rediscover the magic of live performance.

A selection of performance spaces across the city will include three temporary outdoor pavilions designed especially for live performance. The pavilions will be situated at iconic city locations including Edinburgh Park and the University of Edinburgh’s Old College Quad (pictured above) and will feature covered concert stages and socially distanced seating.

Fergus Linehan, Festival Director at Edinburgh International Festival said: “Edinburgh’s summer festivals were officially cancelled almost exactly a year ago. Today, we are delighted to announce that in August 2021, the Edinburgh International Festival will return to live performance.

“While there are still uncertainties ahead, we are confident that this programme will give us the very best chance of delivering a season of live performance from 7th – 29th August. All our planning will be led by the advice we continue to receive from our partners in Government.

“We appreciate that these first steps back to live performances will be for audiences closer to home but are delighted to offer a parallel programme of digital work for those further afield. We are hugely grateful to the artists who have agreed to come on this journey with us, the stakeholders, donors, and sponsors who have stood by us through a tough year and our audiences who have cheered us along throughout. We look forward to sharing full details of the programme in early June."

The International Festival is working with the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council and other relevant authorities to implement appropriate Covid safety measures. These include shorter performances with no intervals, physical distancing, regular cleaning, and contactless ticketing. Full details of the Festival’s security measures will be published in the coming months.

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener, said “The Edinburgh International Festival is an explosion of performing arts, cultural exploration and sheer exhilaration that takes place across the city. After the challenging year we’ve all had and the disappointment of not being able to enjoy the festival in the usual way last year, it will be fantastic for audiences to share in the live performance experience again with an exceptional outdoor pavilions programme for local audiences alongside the Festival’s online offering.”

As part of an ongoing commitment to accessibility, the International Festival will release a selection of high-quality streamed performances free of charge during each week of the Festival, for audiences in Edinburgh and around the world to enjoy from home.

Iain Munro, Chief Executive, Creative Scotland said, “We look forward with anticipation to audiences being welcomed back to live Edinburgh International Festival performances, safely and within the appropriate guidelines.

“Scotland’s art and creative sector has been hit hard by Covid-19 and its effects continue to have an impact, however, it has been truly remarkable how artists and creative organisations across Scotland have adapted to continue to deliver creative work for audiences.

“Using bespoke outdoor venues which will enable audiences in Edinburgh to experience live performance, complemented by digital broadcast across the world, art and creativity in Scotland will again shine bright on the global stage as part of the much loved Edinburgh International Festival.”

Edinburgh International Festival is the world’s leading performing arts festival, featuring the finest performers from the worlds of dance, opera, music and theatre. Created in 1947 to celebrate the human spirit, the International Festival normally serves as an annual cultural exchange, every August, for an international audience exceeding 400,000 per year.

The 2020 Edinburgh International Festival was cancelled for the first time in its history due to concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic, but remains actively engaged in Edinburgh’s community and in creating cultural content for both Scotland’s capital city and the world.

Full details of the 2021 programme, which spans opera, orchestral and chamber music, theatre and contemporary music, will be announced on Wednesday 2nd June and general booking opens on Friday 11th June.

Image - Artist impression of the temporary performance venue at Old College Quad

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