70th Anniversary

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This year the International Festival marks its 70th anniversary. Significant moments from the 70 year history are marked throughout the programme. You can see some of the events below.

Since our first edition in 1947 we have served an international family of artists and audiences through an annual celebration of artistic excellence and innovation. Each year, artists from every corner of the world bring stories and music from their communities and unite around a shared sense of humanity, promoting understanding, tolerance and cooperation.

In that first year the Lord Provost of Edinburgh spoke of his hope that the event would ‘provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit’. The International Festival would focus on common ground, on undisputed greatness and in so doing would make itself a safe place to come together. This was most symbolically achieved with the reuniting of Jewish conductor Bruno Walter with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

This anniversary programme marks not only a remarkable history of iconic performances, but also the partnerships and people who have contributed to our past and who continue to shape our future. We re-examine the ideas and ideals of our founders as they resonate today – what it means to be a European, how we connect with our communities, and what it might mean to be a citizen of the world.

This International Festival has always been far more than a collection of performances – it is a gathering of people, a celebration of generosity, a gift to the world from the world.

Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom

Celebrating the explosion of colour, vibrancy and optimism that supported the arrival of the International Festival in 1947.

The Opening Concert

International Festival 2017 opens with the first work of the first concert in 1947, Haydn's 'Surprise' Symphony

Spirit of '47

A 70th anniversary collaboration between the British Council and the Edinburgh International Festival


Greek was co-commissioned by the International Festival and performed in the Leith Theatre in 1988

The Divide

The Old Vic performed at the first 1947 International Festival and regularly over the next decade. 


Verdi's Macbeth was the very first opera performed at the 1947 International Festival

Festival Firsts

Each of the works in this programme received its world premiere at the International Festival

Mariinsky & RSNO

A celebration of two great 20th century composers with deep connections to the International Festival and who met each other here in the 1960s

70th Anniversary Celebration Concert

Celebrating 70 years of artistry and virtuosity

To share stories and memoriies of how the International Festival has touched your life, please send us an email to 70years@eif.co.uk