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The Opening Weekend of the International Festival

The opening weekend of the Edinburgh International Festival is absolutely packed with exciting events - how do you decide what to see? 

We’ve put together a few tips to help you make the most of your first weekend, and your trip to Edinburgh!

Friday 5 August

Cecilia Bartoli in Norma

Start your International Festival off with the great Cecilia Bartoli stepping into the monumentally challenging titular role of Bellini’s Norma. This passionate production from the Salzburg Festival sets the action of the opera in Second World War France, and has already won the International Opera Award for Best New Production.  Tickets flew out of the door for this one and so it is sold out, but there will be a limited number of tickets available for concessions available in person at The Hub on the day.

You’ll definitely need a drink after all that drama, so head to the nearby Brass Monkey, sip on a beer and admire their back room, which is pasted wall-to-wall with old movie posters (top tip: they screen movies for free in that room every day at 3pm).

If you can’t get your hands on a ticket for Norma, head to The Lyceum for the poignant and funny preview of Vanishing Point’s Interiors.

Saturday 6 August

Cherry Jones in The Glass Menagerie

Hop up bright and early on Saturday morning to climb Arthur’s Seat and take in the views (Arthur's Seat and The Crags helped inspire James Hutton's theory of deep time - more on that later!). Then wander down to the Queen’s Hall for 11am to watch late Romantics Wagner and Mahler slug it out in “who can write the prettiest chord?” under the baton of Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Is that the time?! You’re almost late for a wander round The Meadows, and a Swedish feast at Peter’s Yard.

At around 8.00pm, you’ll make your way over to King’s Theatre for a preview of Broadway hit The Glass Menagerie. John Tiffany’s take on Tennessee Williams’ iconic play is utterly spellbinding, and you’ll be one of the first to see it! Afterwards, gather your mates for a drink and a debrief at the nearby Blackbird.

Sunday 7 August

Deep Time

You had a very busy Saturday. Let’s take Sunday a little more slowly.

Wander down to Loudons Café for a lazy brunch, then head to the nearby Lyceum theatre for 1.30pm to see the second offering from Vanishing Point, The Destroyed Room.

At 6.00pm you’ll find yourself at the Usher Hall for a rousing rendition of Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky and Schoenberg from The Orchestra Dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

Thoroughly invigorated by all that music, you’ll stroll to the base of Edinburgh Castle Rock to see the Standard Life Opening Event: Deep Time. 350 million years of Edinburgh’s history will elapse before your eyes in an awe inspiring projection onto Edinburgh Castle and Castle Rock – all to the post-rock stylings of Scotland’s own Mogwai. If you miss out on tickets, never fear, you can always tune in to the Facebook live stream by liking the International Festival Facebook page and turning on notifications so that you know when we’re live from the event.

As the last twinkles of the Standard Life Opening Event: Deep Time disappear back into the rock, you’ll wander home by moonlight, and think about all the other wonders the International Festival still has in store…


Browse the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival programme

Portrait Exhibition of Castlebrae High School Pupils

A permanent installation of photographic portraits is a lasting legacy of the International Festival’s relationship with the school.

First show of the 2018 International Festival announced

National Theatre of Scotland's restaging of Midsummer by David Greig and Gordon McIntyre will be part of the 2018 International Festival.

International Festival Photographer Exhibition 2017 opens

Counterpoint, a photography exhibition showcasing the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival opens at The Hub