Another birthday this year – this time for the respectable and creative juggernaut, which is the world-leading Edinburgh International Festival.
Going from strength to strength, the EIF turns 75 this year alongside its Fringe and Film siblings. For three weeks through August, the city of Edinburgh becomes an unrivalled hub for the performing arts, with the Internation Festival hosting a range of Theatre, Dance, Opera, Music (Classical and Contemporary) and Cinema events.
An inspiration for year-round art advocacy, the Festival has long promoted itself on bringing an international culture of performance to Scottish audiences.
Below we’ve selected a few of our top picks for the Festival, but with such a diverse and wide programme, we would strongly recommend those planning a visit to Edinburgh to consult the full programme!
Each image links directly to the corresponding Edinburgh International Festival page to purchase tickets or look further at shows. Ticket prices are for standard admission, so please check for concession prices.
Hard-drinking, kirk-admonishing, womanising, smouldering, and with a healthy head of hair – that shortbread visage of Robert Burns is due for a shake-up, aye?
Seeking to pry open the lid of the biscuit tin and delve beyond the poetry and sonnets to hone focus on the man himself – his spirit, his poverty, his tragedy and his battle with mental health and the propelled success he discovered. This world premiere dance theatre production is a new creation from the Edinburgh International Festival, the National Theatre of Scotland, and New York City’s The Joyce Theater, starring the much celebrated and EIF treasure Alan Cumming.
With choreography from Olivier Award-winning Steven Hoggett, Burn features a new score from Anna Meredith, to craft a fresh storytelling experience to view Scotland’s favourite son in a different light.
20.00pm, 15.00pm matinees (60 minutes), 4th– 10th Aug 2022
2 Leven Street, Edinburgh
Tickets: £31.00 – £46.00
The Jungle Book: Reimagined
The life of Mowgli, the young boy found in the jungle and raised by wolves, is a story associated with its animated and family-friendly persona. But following the success of 2018’s ZENOS, internationally celebrated choreography Akram Khan returns to the Festival Theatre to reinvent the Mowgli’s experiences to be told through the eyes of a climate refugee.
Transforming into a magical retelling through dance and movement, The Jungle Book: Reimagined forms Kipling’s original tale to share the story of a near-future world, where a family is torn asunder in escaping their homeland, ravaged by the extreme weather – it is here Mowgli is found; arriving alone at a modern city, but filled with wild beasts who have claimed this once concrete jungle for themselves.
Join ten international dancers, with state-of-the-art animation and visuals and an original score, as audiences witness a compelling and vital piece of storytelling with this blockbuster experience.
19.30pm, 14.30pm matinees (130 minutes), 6th- 14th Aug 2022
13-29 Nicolson Street
Tickets: £21.00 – £39.00
Muster Station: Leith
Of recent, the unthinkable has slipped into the conscious mind. What was once a distant thought, a barrier ‘others’ concerned themselves with, just what happens if it happened to you? If the unimaginable became a reality, as you’re forced from your home and thrust into an ensuing crisis.
Marking the culmination of the International Festival’s four-year residency at Leith Academy, Muster Station: Leith is a new immersive promenade from the undisputed masters of site-specific theatre – Grid Iron co.
Venture through the experience, where audiences will find themselves confined into uncomfortable proximity with those you had pretended to willingly co-exist with, but preferred to disregard. As stories are shared and time elapses, will these barriers between dissolve to allow common humanity to flourish? Or will the fragmentation continue? Will Muster Station leave you renewed, as our precarious predispositions become exposed?
Times differ (120 minutes) 15th – 26th Aug 2022
20 Academy Park, Edinburgh
A world premiere of a beloved classic ballet reimagined for a digital era.
Scottish Ballet has never confined themselves to the traditional boundaries of the art form, but now, perhaps, they have pushed them to new heights in this distinct version of a classical piece, as they meld location and real-time filmmaking with projection and live performance.
In the search for a sense of reality in this artificial world, Coppelia asks what it means to be human in a world of artificial intelligence. How is it possible to compete with the perfection of the unreal? What if the technology we create forms its consciousness? And what happens if you fall in love with a machine?
Choreographed and directed by the UK-based duo Jess and Morgs, their production will explore our relationship with reality through the toying of perception and use of camera to create a unique experience of live theatre.
19.30pm, 14.30pm matinees (80 minutes) 14th – 16th Aug 2022
13-29 Nicolson Street
Tickets: £21.00 – £46.00
Reality and mysticism collide with sonorous beauty of the natural world where silence and sound resonate off one another in Dvořák’s sensational piece. Featuring Welsh soprano and Young Artist of the Year at Natalya Romaniw in the lead role, Dvořák’s timeless opera Rusalka, the haunting fable of a water sprite who sacrifices everything for the love of a human prince, is set to run at the Festival Theatre this August.
Enlisting the aid of a witch, pursuing the prince into the mortal world, and sacrificing her voice to be with him – only to reveal the honest and significant cost of love is greater still. A new production, this operatic is conducted by one of the Festival’s Orchestras in residence, the Philharmonia Orchestra, and Artistic Director Garsington Opera.
Featuring design work from the ever-marvellous Tom Piper, Rusalka appeases the eyes as equally as the ears, crafted as a transformative fantasy with a grim mortal intensity at its foundations.
19.15pm (210 minutes) 6th – 9th Aug 2022
13-29 Nicolson Street
Tickets: £32.00 – £102.00
Counting and Cracking
On the banks of a suburban river in Sydney, Radha and her son Siddhartha release the ashes of Radha’s mother. She was their final connection to the past, to Sri Lanka, and the troubles left behind. And though initially they feel free to move on, and embrace their lives in Australia, a phone call from Colombo brings the past colliding into the present.
Developing the work over a decade, Sri Lankan-Australian writer S. Shakthidharan tells the story of two countries: a post-independence Sri Lanka and an Australia as an immigrant nation, tied together with an epic story of breakup and reunion.
Performed in English, Tamil, and Sinhalese (with live English translation), this overwhelmingly touching story of love and political discord, of home and exile, of parents and children, follows one Sri-Lankan-Australian family over the course of four generations, from the 1950s to early 2000s
19.00pm, 13.00pm matinees (210 minutes) 8th – 14th Aug 2022
Royal Lyceum Theatre
36 Grindlay Street
Tickets: £31.00 – £37.00
Golda Schultz & Jonathan Ware
A rare early morning treat for audiences of The Queen’s Hall, as South African soprano Golda Schultz, one of the world’s most celebrated and respected singers for her warmth and glow, brings her exuberant and rare emotional performances to Edinburgh’s International Festival. The versatile singer is joined by regular pianist partner Jonathan Ware to perform ‘This be her verse’, a significative collection of pieces by often-overlooked women composers.
From France, Germany, the UK and South Africa, this recognition of musical pieces from women composers will traverse the contemporary and back through the ages to the height of the Romantic era as Schultz and Ware explore love, nature, folklore, and belief – from a profoundly female experience. The performance will conclude with a brand new three-song cycle by Kathleen Tagg and Lila Palmer.
11.00am (105 minutes) 11th Aug 2022
85–89 Clerk St
Tickets: £13.00 – £37.00
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Celebrating the natural world early into the Edinburgh International Festival run, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and conductor Elim Chan present the beguiling The Tears of Nature from Chinese-born composer Tan Dun. Having hypnotised cinema lovers with his defining soundtracks for Hero, The Banquet and, of course, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, always drawing on the opulent soundscapes of China.
Elevating the alarm about the hastening climate crisis this percussion concerto is also a celebration of the inspiration we take from the natural world, in an unapologetically theatrical and colourful manner. Channelling intense energy and wit into the show. Hong Kong-born conductor Elim Chan relishes leaving a profound mark on the RSNO. A superb and sumptuous manner in which to kick off the festival for many.
20.00pm (90 minutes) 9th Aug 2022
Lothian Road, Edinburgh
Tickets: £17.00 – £52.00
If you haven’t spotted your production – do not worry! We’re currently working our way through a huge backlog of requests, with many previews and Q & A’s lined up for the coming month. If you haven’t, please do get in touch through the contact page to feature in an upcoming ‘Have A Gander’