Ambitions and beginnings
The Edinburgh International Festival was established in 1947 by Rudolf Bing, then the General Manager of Glyndebourne Opera, Henry Harvey Wood the Head of the British Council in Scotland, and a group of civic leaders from the City of Edinburgh.
Working in the wake of the Second World War, the founders had a vision of a Festival that could enliven and enrich the cultural life of Europe, Britain and Scotland and 'provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit'.
The Festival's founders also recognised that, if the Festival succeeded in its artistic ambitions, it would create a major new source of tourism revenue for Edinburgh and for Scotland.
This founding principle - that a world class cultural event, which brings together audiences and artists from around the world, would also generate significant cultural, social and economic benefits for Edinburgh and Scotland - is as relevant today as it was over 60 years ago.
What makes a Festival
The Festival has been continually ranked as one of the most important cultural celebrations in the world. Its annual programme features classical music, opera, theatre and dance of the highest possible standard.
The Festival is programmed by the Festival Director - Jonathan Mills, since October 2006. Artists perform at the Festival at the Director's invitation, with the Festival administration being responsible for all aspects of the promotion and management of its events.
A permanent home
In July 1999 the Edinburgh International Festival opened its first permanent home, The Hub, Edinburgh's Festival Centre. The Hub, formerly The Highland Tolbooth, features Edinburgh's most prominent spire towering over the Royal Mile. This historic A listed building is enhanced by contemporary arts and crafts, including light sculptures, tiling, stained glass and a stunning sculpture hall. It houses a year round ticket centre and café and each year becomes the buzzing heart of the Festival City.
Want to know more?
Below you'll find a list of Festival Directors going back to the Festival's birth. There's also a list of dates from previous Festivals.
The Festival's archive is held by the National Library of Scotland. In addition, the Edinburgh Room at the City of Edinburgh's Central Library has accessible copies of all Festival publications, including event programmes.
Have a look at the answers to these Frequently Asked Questions. Got another question? Please contact us.
Previous Edinburgh International Festival dates