In this blog series from August 2023, our weekend guides helped you to plan a Festival schedule full of unparalleled culture, mouth-watering food and quintessential Scottish experiences.
Friday 18 August
Your first show of the weekend is one that will keep you thinking until your journey home. Two award-winning Belgian companies come together for Dimanche, a stunning visual performance combining puppetry, video, mime and clowning. The performance is set sometime in the near future and it is the end of the world as we know it. In their small city home, a family is about to spend their Sunday together, but the walls are shaking, strong winds and torrential rain rage outside and the storm has only just begun. Amidst this climatic chaos, the protagonists absurdly attempt to maintain a normal family life.
After the show, you’ll be ready for dinner. You have an array of locally praised restaurants around the Morningside area, so take your pick! If you’relooking for a vegan meal, Seeds for the Soul never disappoints. If you love it so much you can always nip back to sample their delicious brunch menu tomorrow morning. If you are looking for a cosier affair, Three Birds is one to try out. With a friendly atmosphere and staff to match, you are bound to have a relaxing evening ahead of a busy Saturday.
Saturday 19 August
Start your Saturday with an indulgent brunch at one of Newington’s gorgeous cafes. Kilimanjaro Coffee, August 21 and Kate’s are all Festival staff favourites. If you want something on the go, Bakery 101 has jaw-dropping baked goods.
Once you’re fuelled up, make your way to The Queen’s Hall for 11am where internationally renowned oboist Albrecht Mayer and friends will perform lively pieces by Mozart, Britten and Moeran. Mayer is principal oboe with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and a renowned chamber musician. Take in the elegance of the music before heading for lunch.
If you are looking for something light, Cult Coffee is an Edinburgh classic. Get comfortable inside or use the café's tables just across the road. Be warned, they are outside the incredibly tempting plant shop Green Meadows, so don’t be surprised if you walk away with more than a full stomach!
You have some time before your next performance, so stroll down to Dean Village and explore the hidden, tranquil river. The enchanted woodland looks like it has come straight out of a Lewis Carroll book, Dean Village is one of the oldest villages that lay around the original Royal Burgh of Edinburgh. From there head to Stockbridge, known for its independent coffee shops and elegant Georgian town houses. Grab a coffee from our partners, The Pantry before making your way back to The Edinburgh Playhouse for a 7.30pm performance of The Rite of Spring / common ground[s].
The UK premiere of Pina Bausch’s The Rite of Spring was performed in 1978 at the International Festival. This year, it returns with the original choreography and a cast of 34 specially assembled dancers from 14 African countries. In this pioneering work, on an earth-covered stage, dancers clash and engage in a wild and poetic struggle to the music of Igor Stravinsky. Discover more about The Rite of Spring in our blog.
Head to George IV Bridge for a traditional Scottish meal with a twist at The Cellar Door. This hidden basement restaurant is just a few doors down from where Harry Potter is said to have been written. For seasonal, locally sourced Scottish produce, this is the place to be. Your next show is at the home of Edinburgh International Festival, The Hub, so why not enjoy a quick drink beforehand? Keeping with the theme of hidden venues, see if you can find Advocate’s Close just off the Royal Mile. Squeeze down the narrow alleyway to get to Devil’s Advocate to discover bespoke cocktails and over 300 types of whiskey.
Finish your evening at The Hub, the building with the highest point in Edinburgh, for The Aga Khan Master Musicians at 10pm. Brought together by the Aga Khan Music Programme, these musicians explore how musical innovation can contribute to the revitalisation of cultural heritage. The group’s members create and perform music inspired by their roots in the cultures of the Middle East and Mediterranean Basin, Central Asia, South Asia and China. Soak up the cultural richness of the music and get ready for another day of Festival madness.
Sunday 20 August
Take the morning to tick off some must do Edinburgh activities. Watch the street performers on the Royal Mile, then meander along to the National Museums of Edinburgh. Make sure to climb up to the roof terrace for one of the best views of the city’s skyline.
Your afternoon show awaits you in The Lyceum. Head there at 3pm for Phaedra/Minotaur, a sensational double bill pairing Benjamin Britten’s final vocal work, the powerful cantata Phaedra, with the thrilling new dance piece Minotaur. First, Benjamin Britten’s cantata tells the story of Phaedra and her all-consuming lust for her stepson, Hippolytus. In Minotaur, we meet Ariadne (Phaedra’s sister), her lover Theseus and her half-brother – the Minotaur himself. Through Kim Brandstrup’s moving choreography, we follow the characters’ conflict, lust and pain through the depths of the labyrinth.
Are you ready for your last evening in Edinburgh? You have a couple of hours to indulge yourself at dinner. If you are feeling like it is time to really treat yourself head to Noto on the hidden Thistle Street for bespoke cocktails, flavour packed small plates and rare wines.
Finally, it’s time for your last show of the weekend, and what a memorable one it will be. Head to Usher Hall for the 7pm performance of Tippett’s ‘A Child of Our Time’. Sir Andrew Davis conducts the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Edinburgh Festival Chorus in this profound exploration of human nature and our collective search for light in the darkness. The programme opens with a 60th anniversary performance of Tippett’s Concerto for Orchestra, a work commissioned by the International Festival and premiered at the Usher Hall in 1963. What a joy it will be to see a piece go full circle.
What a weekend you’ve had! From opera to theatre to classic music, you have covered so many bases. Now it’s time to share your memories with us using #EdIntFest, get home and dream about your next weekend at the Festival.