News Story

Celebrating the people who make it all happen.

At Edinburgh International Festival, we’re partnering with our friends at the August festivals – at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo – on an exciting new project. Faces of Edinburgh Festivals shines a light on those working hard behind the scenes to create the unique buzz felt in Edinburgh each August.

When most people think of the Edinburgh festivals, they think of the world-class artists, ensembles and companies who grace the city’s stages, but it takes so much more than that to create these international cultural celebrations. Together, the August festivals have curated the Faces of Edinburgh Festivals, a collection of portraits and enlightening interviews with the people who transform Edinburgh into the Festival City every summer.

The cancellation of the summer festivals as they were originally planned in 2020 had a substantial impact, not only on artists and performers, but on every aspect of Edinburgh life. It is a void felt by many in the festival community, amongst the city’s residents and businesses and by international guests across the world. Yet it has been uplifting to see so many acts of solidarity and kindness, as festivals and artists work together to find creative ways to bring audiences the culture they need safely. The spirit of community has been kept alive by the people who make up the festival city.

It seems more important than ever to celebrate those who contribute to the festivals in unseen ways, to shine a light on the scale of teamwork required to make Edinburgh what it is every August.

Faces of Edinburgh Festivals shares the previously untold stories of the countless individuals who work tirelessly to make the festivals happen, from local business owners to technical crew, designers, waiters, taxi drivers, hotel staff and city residents.

The series of interviews, accompanied by beautiful portrait photography, conveys how important these people are to the fabric of the festivals, whether they have an incredible passion for culture and the arts, a festival job that you never knew existed or a unique story to tell.

One of the first faces to be featured is Sadie McKinlay, Edinburgh International Festival’s own Head of Development, who also has a long history working with Edinburgh International Book Festival. She sheds light on her deep personal connection to the Edinburgh festivals.


People don’t see me doing my job, I’m not on stage, but when I look at the final result I think – I helped make that happen. You can put festivals in other cities but there’s something unique about Edinburgh, this wonderful place, its different communities – you can’t just replicate that anywhere else.
Sadie McKinlay, Edinburgh International Festival

Mahmoud Ibrahim, Finance Manager at Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society is the other first face to appear alongside Sadie.


How can you capture the magic of August in Edinburgh? No photo or video can do it justice. Edinburgh itself is the festival city and to really understand what that means you need to visit and be a part of it.
​Mahmoud Ibrahim, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

This rich gallery of stories and images will be available on the Festivals Edinburgh website and Facebook page. Plus look out for the faces on posters across the city and in print every week in The Scotman's Festival supplement.

Got your own festival story to share? Use #edfests to tell us what the Edinburgh festivals mean to you.