The final weekend of the Festival means it is time to soak up the last shows of the month. We have filled the whole weekend with dance, music, theatre, food and Edinburgh must-sees. It’s time to get those bags packed and experience the unparalleled buzz of Edinburgh in August.
Friday 25 August
Kick off the weekend with none other than the legendary Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Programme 1 at the Festival Theatre at 7.30pm. The performance opens with Aszure Barton’s BUSK, a piece examining the multi-layered wisdom of the human body. Set to a spirited score, BUSK has been described as watching the physical unfurling of the human psyche. This is followed by the UK premiere of Kyle Abraham’s Are You in Your Feelings?, a celebration of Black culture, Black music and the youthful spirit that perseveres in us all. Get to know Kyle Abraham better and learn about his career and inspirations in our blog. The performance closes with Revelations, Alvin Ailey's rich homage to rich African American cultural traditions.
For your first meal in the city, head to the intimate French restaurant Chez Jules in New Town. It is a favourite with Edinburgh locals for its traditional French décor, food and wine. If you are on a budget this week it is the perfect place with delicious steak for just £12.90 and an array of other affordable dishes.
Saturday 26 August
Edinburgh weekends can be busy and overwhelming, so why not make your way to The Queen’s Hall, a quiet oasis in the middle of the city. If you are looking for a hearty breakfast to start your day, try Snax Café. With a delicious full Scottish breakfast (and a vegan option too!), it is the perfect pre-show meal. The thrilling violinist Christian Tetzlaff joins forces with chamber orchestra Camerata Bern for an absorbing new presentation of Haydn's The Seven Last Words of Christ at 11am. Performed in front of a bold new video installation, Tetzlaff brings energy to Haydn’s innovative collection of movements. The music opens with a noble introduction and closes with a tempestuous ‘Earthquake’ finale. Liebert’s artistic reflection of Haydn’s music features images projected onto three screens, symbolising the three crosses.
Head through the Meadows and grab yourself a famous hot chocolate from Uplands Roast van to satisfy those taste buds on your journey. There may easily be a cricket match happening while you walk through so why not take a seat on one of the many benches and get your daily dose of sport. Move from one of Edinburgh's beautiful green spaces to another, and join us in Charlotte Square Gardens. Normally closed to the public, for the final weekend of the International Festival it will open for a free shared listening experience from 12pm. Not normally open to the public, this beautiful setting is the perfect space to wander through a soundscape of classical music. The event will last four hours so dip in and out as you like.
It’s time to grab some lunch. You are surrounded by some of Edinburgh best restaurants right in the heart of New Town and seeing as it is the last weekend, let’s treat ourselves! Grab a table at the tranquil, plant filled Mediterranean restaurant, The Garden. The kitchen closes at 2pm each day so make sure to get your orders in early.
The Lyceum is waiting for you and it’s just a quick 10-minute walk away. Award-winning international theatre company Cheek by Jowl presents a radical new version of a Spanish classic, Life is a Dream. A prince is chained in a mountain from birth, following a prophecy that he is destined to become a tyrant. Upon release, he discovers a world completely different to the one he’s always known. Is this reality, or is it all just a dream? Find out what Life is a Dream is all about in our blog.
Time to relax and take in the beauty of the city. Head up Calton Hill for one of Edinburgh’s best views. If you look north you can see our coastlines and Fife ahead. If you look east you can see stunning views of Arthur’s Seat and if you look west you can take in the city views. If you fancy walking further afield to seek out more stunning views you can choose between Blackford Hill, Arthur’s seat, Corstorphine Hill or the Pentlands.
Once you’ve taken it all in, it is time to grab an early dinner. Wander down to Bruntsfield where your next venue is just around the corner. Bruntsfield is full of independent restaurants and you are spoilt for choice. For an Italian feast head to Tempo Perso or if you are looking for a lighter meal, nip across the road to ecanter Winery and Dinery, which is perfect for pre-show drinks and nibbles.
Carry on towards Morningside, and you'll reach Church Hill Theatre for Daisy Evan's radical retelling of Bluebeard's Castle. Evans has reimagined Bartók’s haunting operatic masterpiece as a love story. You may be familiar with the original story – Bluebeard takes his bride home to his castle, only for her to discover his three former wives behind a locked door. In this version instead of ominous doors, a locked trunk sits in the living room. Judith begs for it to be opened, over and over again, and as it is, memories spill out – a wedding, a child, a family. This castle is not a dank, airless dungeon, but rather a happy home where Judith and Bluebeard have shared their most precious memories.
Process the beauty of the performance in a Grassmarket classic, Cold Town House. With an unbeatable view of the Castle, sit on the rooftop and enjoy the scenes of Edinburgh history.
Head up to the home of the Edinburgh International Festival, The Hub, for your final show of the day. Nai Barghouti is joined by her quartet for a life-affirming, jazz-infused musical feast that showcases a dizzying depth of international influences. Nai Barghouti first toured the UK with her Arabic jazz sound in 2017, quickly becoming a favourite with audiences around the country. Her fellow musicians reflect that musical fusion, playing instruments from keys and bass to qānūn and an array of percussion. Together they create the perfect accompaniment to Barghouti’s astounding vocals.
Sunday 27 August
Enjoy your morning by visiting Stockbridge Market, right in the heart of one of Edinburgh’s prettiest neighbourhoods. Head through the iconic Circus Lane, coming out to the hustle and bustle of independent coffee shops, restaurants and retail stores. Grab a bite to eat at one of the many loved cafes; our partners The Pantry, Cowan and Sons or Soderberg. Stockbridge Market is the perfect place to accumulate supplies for a picnic. With a huge range of locally sourced, fresh produce why not pack up for some lunch and head to one of Edinburgh’s many green spaces later in the day?
When you’re ready, stroll towards The Studio for FOOD with Geoff Sobelle at 2pm. An intimate dinner party of smell, taste and touch, this piece is an immersive performance by the absurdist theatre maker. The audience gathers around a dining table with sounds, scents and textures shaping a conversation about personal memories, consumption and the evolution of food.
With your penultimate performance finished it’s time to re-energise with some dinner. For a refreshing healthy bite to eat head to Kanpai. Located just behind Usher Hall, it is one of the highest-rated sushi restaurants in Edinburgh. Give yourself some time to relax while you prepare for the finale of the weekend.
At 6pm The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Edinburgh Festival Chorus are joined by three vocal soloists for the powerful finale to the Usher Hall programme. For the Closing Concert, conductor Karina Canellakis, renowned for delivering emotionally charged performances, takes on feats of musical storytelling in this narrative programme.
All good things must come to an end, and this is the last of our performances this year. But it is not the end of opportunities to get involved. Sign up to our mailing list to stay in touch year-round and receive cultural recommendations, Festival news and other exclusive content directly to your inbox.
See you next year!