The first weekend of the 2023 Edinburgh International Festival featured world premieres from across the globe, Grammy® award-winning artists, highly anticipated new works and so much more. In this blog series from August 2023, our suggested itineraries were designed to help you not waste a moment during your busy Festival schedule.
Friday 4 August
Start your weekend with a hearty pre-show meal at an Edinburgh locals’ favourite, Ting Tai Caravan on Teviot Place. It can get pretty busy in there so if you can’t get a table, you can always go to their sister restaurant on the same street, Saboteur. You will be greeted with a fantastic mix of Asian cuisine in a laid-back dining setting.
With your taste buds activated, head to The Studio for Geoff Sobelle’s FOOD at 8pm. This show is the last of two previews, so tickets start from just £30. FOOD is an intimate dinner party, with Sobelle as your maitre’d. The audience gathers around a dining table with sounds, scents and textures shaping a conversation about personal memories, consumption, and the evolution of food production over generations.
With a brilliant first night under your belt, make your way to rest your head in anticipation for your first Saturday at the Festival.
Saturday 5 August
Take a morning walk through the Meadows, slowly making your way to Newington. If you are feeling energised, you could even practise your putting at the publicly available Bruntsfield Links golf course then grab a coffee at Cult Coffee Roasters on Buccleuch Street before making yourself comfortable in The Queen’s Hall to see Stefan Jackiw & Friends at 11am. The American violinist brings us a programme of both Scottish and American influences. Three friends will join him to perform chamber pieces based on folk music.
Now it’s time to celebrate the beginning of the Festival with our free event, Opening Fanfare: Scotland Makes Music. Festival Director, Nicola Benedetti has assembled some of Scotland’s most inspiring young musicians to welcome you all to the opening celebrations of the Festival. Princes Street gardens will be bursting with energetic and diverse talent for almost five hours. The event is unticketed, so drop in and out as you like.
Make your way to Pizza Posto for a comforting Italian meal before a show at the Festival Theatre, just across the road. Once you’ve eaten, head to see Cécile McLorin Salvant’s UK premiere of Ogresse at the Festival Theatre. Jazz meets theatre in this telling of a lovesick, ravenous monster who lives in a forest. Salvant drew inspiration from eclectic sources: from a Haitian goddess to the true story of Sarah Baartman – a South African woman exhibited as so-called freakshow attraction in 19th-century Europe.
The show is bound to get you thinking, so debrief over a drink at Greenmantle bar on St Patrick Square, before retiring for the evening.
Sunday 6 August
Have a lazy morning for your last day at the Festival as you make your way over to Church Hill Theatre in Bruntsfield. You could treat yourself to brunch at Montpelier’s on Bruntsfield Road or if you are just looking for a quick coffee, pop into Project Coffee across the road. If you're here with any little ones, we have the perfect show to ignite their imaginations. The Church Hill Theatre will host The Lost Lending Library, where the guardians of the library are in urgent need of stories to fill a mysterious new department… There are multiple performances throughout the day so you can choose what suits you.
You can enjoy the array of independent shops on Bruntsfield Road on your way to our partners at One Square Bar & Brasserie for lunch. Situated within Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, One Square Bar & Brasserie is the perfect spot for lunch right next door to your next venue. Relax with bar food and drinks on the terrace overlooking the Edinburgh Castle.
Head to the Usher Hall at 5pm as our Festival Director Nicola Benedetti and acclaimed broadcaster Tom Service present an event exploring contemporary classical music with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
Your day is not over yet, but you do have time to eat before your final show of the day. With your next venue being just around the corner you can choose somewhere close for dinner. Head to Red Squirrel for a gastropub meal or if you are looking for something lighter, Kanpai Sushi is on the next street over. Once you have reenergised, head to the Traverse Theatre for a 9pm performance of National Theatre of Scotland’s Thrown. Glasgow-based writer, actor and movement specialist Nat McCleary joins forces with director and performer Johnny McKnight to create this uniquely Scottish play.
With that, the first weekend of the Festival comes to a close. Head home to rest up, and share your memories with us using #EdIntFest.