Edinburgh International Festival

Edinburgh International Festival

The Edinburgh International Festival is a festival of performing arts that takes place in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, over three weeks from around the middle of August. By invitation from the General Director, the International Festival brings top class performers of music (especially classical music), theatre, opera, and dance from around the world to perform.


The first International Festival (and the first festival of Fringe, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, although it wasn't known as such until later) took place in 1947, in the wake of the Second World War, with an optimistic remit to 'provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit' and enrich the cultural life of Scotland, Britain and Europe. The founders of the Festival included Rudolf Bing, (then the General Manager of Glyndebourne Opera Festival), Henry Harvey Wood the Head of the British Council in Scotland, and a group of civic leaders from the City of Edinburgh.The festivals have taken place every August since.


In 1999, the International Festival moved to a permanent home in The Hub, formerly 'The Highland Tolbooth' - an architecturally remarkable building a couple of minutes' walk from Edinburgh Castle, originally built as an assembly house for the Church of Scotland. Its gothic spire is the highest point in central Edinburgh, and can be seen for many miles around.

The Festival aims to cover its costs every year. The total budget for the 2004 Festival was £6.8 million, covered by a combination of ticket sales (27%) and other earned income - broadcast fees, publications and so on (4%); sponsorship & donations (27%); and public grants (42%, mostly from the City of Edinburgh Council). Almost 335,000 people attended EIF events in 2004. 60% of these were Scottish, another 26% came from the rest of Britain, 14% came from overseas.

Besides the performances during the Festival itself, a range of education and outreach workshops, talks and lectures take place throughout the year.

The dates for the next few International Festivals are as follows:2008 - 8 August - 31 August; 2009 - 14 August - 6 September; 2010 - 13 August – 5 September

Festival venues

The principal venues of the Festival are:
* Usher Hall (capacity 2,300)
* Festival Theatre (1,800), primarily used for opera and ballet productions.
* The Edinburgh Playhouse (2,900)
* Royal Lyceum Theatre (650)
* The Queen’s Hall (920)
* The Hub (420)

Festival directors

*1947 - 1949: Sir Rudolf Bing
*1950 - 1955: Sir Ian Bruce Hope Hunter
*1956 - 1960: Robert Noel Ponsonby
*1961 - 1965: George Henry Hubert Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood
*1966 - 1978: Peter Diamand
*1979 - 1983: Sir John Richard Gray Drummond
*1984 - 1991: Frank Dunlop
*1992 - 2006: Sir Brian McMaster
*From October 2006: Jonathan Mills

Other Festivals in Edinburgh

About ten other festivals are held in Edinburgh at the about the same time as the International Festival. Collectively, the entire group is referred to as the Edinburgh Festival. Most notable of these is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which started as an offshoot of the International Festival and has since grown to be the world's largest arts festival.

Further reading

Miller, E., "The Edinburgh International Festival, 1947 -1996", Scolar Press, Aldershot, 1996
Bruce, G., "Festival in the North: Story of the Edinburgh International Festival of the Arts", Hale, 1975

ee also

*List of opera festivals

External links

* [http://www.eif.co.uk/ Official web site]
* [http://www.edinburgh-festivals.com/reviews.cfm "The Scotsman"] Full coverage of EIF
* [http://www.edinburghguide.com/festival "EdinburghGuide.com"] Previews and Reviews
* [http://www.festmag.co.uk/ Fest Magazine] , a free and independent Edinburgh Festival magazine
* [http://www.threeweeks.co.uk/ ThreeWeeks] a guide to the Edinburgh Festival
* [http://www.edinburghfestivalpunter.co.uk/ A Punter's Perspective] A history of the International (& other August) festivals plus links to previews/reviews

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