Planning a trip to the Edinburgh International Festival for the opening weekend of our 75th anniversary? Look no further. We're here to guide you through a jam-packed programme of world-leading performers from across the globe, with a schedule setting out just how to spend that first whirlwind weekend in August.
Friday 5 August
Starting the clock at 7.30pm on what we hope will be a sunny Friday evening, it's time to put all thoughts of work aside, get your bearings and make your way to BT Murrayfield to start the Festival in style. Arrive early to soak up the atmosphere in the grounds before settling into your seat for MACRO, our free opening night event and the first of a series of performances in our UK/Australia Season. You’ll be astounded by the award-winning contemporary circus troupe Gravity & Other Myths, Indigenous Australian dance/theatre sensations Djuki Mala, pipers, drums, lights, choirs and more in an epic feast for the senses. If you've not yet got your ticket, keep an eye on our website for returns.
After the show, you can keep the Australian theme going by hopping on the bus over to Newington to explore House of Oz, a pop-up Fringe venue celebrating all things Australian. There you'll find an art installation, live music, a buzzing cocktail bar and even a secret outback-themed garden bar and kitchen.
Saturday 6 August
Assuming you may need a bit of a lie-in on your Saturday morning, we've allowed plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast at one of Edinburgh's amazing cafés before sending you off to an intimate concert by the Philharmonia Chamber Players at 11am. Made up of incredible musicians from one of our 2022 resident orchestras, their repertoire for the morning includes moving, expressive works by Strauss, Louise Farrenc and Hans Gál. Once a Georgian church, the Queen’s Hall, with its high ceilings and curved pews, is the perfect space in which to appreciate the expertise in every note.
Stroll through the Meadows towards the Usher Hall to catch the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra in their only performance in Scotland as part of their tour of Europe and the USA. Also completely free, this moving, historic concert will include soaring classical music by Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov as well as Dvořák, Chopin and Verdi. It's hosted in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and to raise money for the Scottish Refugee Council, which has taken a leading role in welcoming displaced Ukrainians to Scotland and providing vital assistance as they settle in. Tickets were snapped up within hours, but it's always worth checking our website for returns or asking at the venue!
Pop next door to DINE for a locally sourced, seasonal dinner and perhaps a little something from their extensive cocktail menu, to kick off your evening. You can use the code EIF10 when booking at DINE to receive a 10% discount throughout the Festival. You should then still have time to get your glad rags on before strolling to the Festival Theatre for the Edinburgh opening night of Rusalka, Dvořák's best-loved opera. With its mystical, fairy tale-like staging and award-winning soprano Natalya Romaniw in the title role, this is the perfect crescendo for your Saturday night.
Sunday 7 August
Wake up early to revel in the gothic beauty of Edinburgh's Old Town with a walking tour provided by Edinburgh Festival Voluntary Guides Association. There’s no need to book in advance – you can just join them outside the City Chambers for a wander down the iconic Royal Mile, led by one of their knowledgeable guides.
Keep your immersion in Scottish culture going by walking over to the King’s Theatre for a matinee performance of Burn. Telling the gritty, real story of our national Bard, Robert Burns, the show marks national treasure Alan Cumming's solo dance-theatre debut. Cumming co-created the piece with award-winning choreographer Steven Hoggett, famed for his work on Blackwatch and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
After that, take a trip to One Square Brasserie at the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa. Relax with an early dinner and drinks on the terrace, at a table overlooking Edinburgh Castle. Then there’s just enough time to head down to the Playhouse to hear jazz legend Herbie Hancock make his International Festival debut.
Monday 8 August
Your morning starts back at the Queen's Hall, for another exquisite chamber music recital. This time, it's fortepianist Ronald Brautigam, violinist Esther Hoppe and cellist Christian Poltéra who'll be captivating the crowd, playing three Romantic classics by Fanny Mendelssohn, Schumann and Schubert.
Continue your exploration of the city with an afternoon in Leith, a lively, creatively and culturally rich neighbourhood. Once there, pop into Lind & Lime for a distillery tour, complete with a refreshing G&T, before making your back into town to the Lyceum to preview some critically acclaimed theatre. Telling the story of a Sri Lankan-Australian family over four generations, S. Shakthidharan's Counting and Crackingwas hailed as a "contender for the best play of the year" in a five-star review from TimeOut when it debuted at the Sydney Festival.
As the curtain falls, you'll have successfully spent your first 75 hours in the Festival City, but don’t be sad it’s over. Smile because it happened... or simply come back next weekend!