News Story

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the 2023 Edinburgh International Festival.

In Nicola Benedetti's first year as our Festival Director, we asked the question 'Where do we go from here?'. In welcoming the world through our doors to experience incredible performances from across the globe, we have started a conversation that we cannot wait to explore further with you.

The Opening Weekend

In our opening weekend, we held our free, two-day celebration of music-making in Princes Street Gardens bringing together orchestras and ensembles from across Scotland. We painted the town yellow with three special opening performances; Cécile McLorin Salvant: Ogresse, First Night at The Hub and The Opening Concert at Usher Hall.

The Hub

This year, we opened our home of The Hub as the green room of the Festival. We created a cosy performance space in our Main Hall for evening music performances and afternoon conversations, as well as opening the building during the day for audiences to explore and contribute to our postcard installation.

Theatre and Dance

Our theatre programme ranged from poignant and intimate performances such as Dimanche and FOOD, responding to some of the biggest questions of our time, to energetic, raucous productions including Thrown and Life is a Dream. In dance, the dazzling Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed two distinct programmes showcasing the breadth of their work, while Pina Bausch’s acclaimed choreography of The Rite of Spring returned to the Edinburgh stage following its UK premiere here at the 1978 Festival.

Music Theatre and Opera

Our music theatre and opera programme encompassed musical traditions from Hungary, Korea and Germany, in a truly international programme of works. Productions spanned from the intimate, innovative opera Bluebeard’s Castle, to epic music theatre in Trojan Women and The Threepenny Opera.

Classical Music

Our classical music programme across The Hub, The Queen's Hall and the Usher Hall embraced both traditional and experimental formats. We hosted three orchestras for artistic residencies – allowing a deeper engagement between artists, audiences and the city of Edinburgh. The Budapest Festival Orchestra brought innovative approaches to classical music, with their iconic late-night concert positioning audiences amongst the orchestra on beanbags! The London Symphony Orchestra experimented with music and conversation, while the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela showcased the breadth of their musical repertoire, with music from Europe and South America.

Contemporary Music

Music at this year’s Festival spanned a huge range of genres, across jazz, folk, rock and electronic. Indie rocker Jake Bugg and electronic icon Alison Goldfrapp got audiences dancing, while Mercury Prize-nominated Irish group Lankum performed their gothic folk music to a packed venue. Genre-defying sitar player Anoushka Shankar closed out the contemporary music programme with an enchanting performance at the Festival Theatre.

Learning and Engagement

Our engagement work brought communities into the heart of the programme. Culture Clubs offered a bespoke Festival-going experience for local groups including Deaf Action and Vintage Vibes, while Meaningful Moments brought artists into community spaces to perform. We also continued our relationship with NHS hospitals with the London Symphony Orchestra performing for over 1000 patients, staff and visitors in four hospitals across the city. 25 emerging dancers had the opportunity to train with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and perform in Memoria at Festival Theatre and we brought local artists together for a workshop with the company behind Dimanche. We worked with young people to help shape the future of the Festival, with our Youth Takeover Day alongside jazz bassist Endea Owens. Children engaged with The Lost Lending Library through their community centres and schools, while secondary school pupils experienced opera Bluebeard’s Castle, following on from our ongoing Opera Project in schools.

Our Learning and Engagement work continues year-round, with our Art of Listening workshops at The Hub, and work with young people, communities and arts professionals throughout the year, with thanks to our Learning and Engagement Partner Baillie Gifford. Learn more about our Learning and Engagement work.