About Us

The original festival. We’re the one that started it all, the igniting spark which established Edinburgh as the world’s Festival City.

Our Origin Story

Founded in 1947, the International Festival was the inspired idea of Rudolf Bing, a cultural pioneer and Jewish refugee of the Nazi regime.

He joined with civic and artistic leaders to create an event that would transcend political boundaries through a global celebration of performing arts in Scotland’s beloved capital city. Over the following 76 years the International Festival has flourished, deepening our commitment to artistic excellence and cultural curiosity. Meanwhile, sister festivals have grown up around us, each of them contributing to the atmosphere of unparalleled excitement that transforms the city every summer.

Our Festival

We welcome the world to Edinburgh to experience our hand-picked programme of the finest performers in dance, opera, music and theatre. Through their artistry we create space for reflection and reconciliation, debate and celebration, bringing people of different cultures and viewpoints together.

Our Impact

Shining far beyond what you see on stage, we aim to be a beacon for the enormous creativity, curiosity and potential held within individuals, communities and our nation. We offer year-round pathways for people of all ages and backgrounds to discover and participate in live performance, and to help shape the future of our Festival. By nurturing the next generation of artists – from inspiring primary schoolchildren to mentoring rising stars – we want this legacy to be felt for years to come.

Our Vision

Our vision is simple: to provide the deepest experience of the highest quality art for the broadest possible audience.

Our Audience Manifesto

  • Live performance is most thrilling when audiences and artists are in communion with one another. What we each bring into the room matters.
  • We invite you to listen, gather, seek, and feel with us. Sometimes we listen so deeply we hear every breath in the room; at other times we gather with a joyful roar! We’ll make sure you know what to expect.
  • We want you to feel truly welcome at our events. We ask and listen to what you need, aiming to remove barriers through our Access Pass, range of prices, concessions and friendly staff.
  • There is always something new to discover – we hope our audio introductions, post-show talks and ‘inside out’ concerts will reward your curiosity, whether you’re here for the first time or you’ve been with us through the decades.
  • There is no singular view on why a symphony matters, what makes opera relatable, or how dance makes us feel. If you seek context and depth, we will connect you with the human stories behind these works of art.
  • We present you a window to the world. Encounter familiar stories in other languages or from radically different perspectives. Bring an open heart and mind, and we’ll provide specific guidance for those who want to feel more prepared.


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