News Story

And just like that, it's all over! Let's revisit some of the 2017 International Festival highlights.

From Bloom to the fireworks ‘boom’, the month of August flew by so quickly! That’s what happens if you’re seeing the world’s best opera, dance, theatre and music for three weeks – it’s the best kind of busy. Let’s revisit some of the 2017 International Festival highlights.

In August, over 2,020 world-class artists from 40 nations gave performances of outstanding quality and originality. The 70th anniversary programme celebrated moments of repertoire from the first International Festival, companies that played an important role in the International Festival’s history and individual artists who have made a unique contribution across the years. To start our recap, we have an amazing video that captures the excitement and energy of the last few weeks.

Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom

We kicked off the 70th anniversary celebrations by turning St Andrew Square into a magical night garden. Residents and visitors were mesmerised by beautiful projections and music portraying the history and rich heritage of Edinburgh, the Festival City. Take a look at the video below for the full recording of the event.


Opera was given a special place in the programme this year with a special, already described as a ‘legendary’, performance of Wagner’s Die Walküre (make sure to read our special blog post dedicated to the singers) with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, three ingeniously presented Monteverdi operas, a bold staging of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek, a roof-raising Peter Grimes concert, and spectacular productions of Macbeth and La bohème by the International Festival’s resident company, Teatro Regio Torino. Classic FM took us behind the scenes of La bohème.


The stories told on stage this year ranged from Alan Ayckbourn’s epic dystopian drama The Divide, Zinnie Harris’ modern version of Ionesco’s classic play Rhinoceros, Beckett’s one-man-show Krapp's Last Tape, to the miniature sensation that was Vox Motus’ Flight. And let’s not forget the night-time journeys to the land of altered hearts, minds and body parts that Meow Meow was taking us on at The Hub – watch a snippet below:

Classical music

The Usher Hall saw 13 world-class orchestras, including Filarmonica della Scala, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Budapest Festival Orchestra, in 20 unforgettable concert performances, four of which featured the mighty Edinburgh Festival Chorus. We also had wonderfully intimate recitals from renowned pianist Mitsuko Uchida, violin superstar Joshua Bell, and Welsh bass baritone Bryn Terfelwith pianist Malcolm Martineau. Below you can see actor Charles Dance rehearsing for his performance with Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Some of the concerts will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in September so keep an eye on our social media for the updates.

There’s no better way of starting your day during the International Festival than at The Queen’s Hall concerts. Charismatic singers, extraordinary musicians and ensembles made our audiences feel uplifted, moved and delighted. Here’s a wonderful music session that Benjamin Appl and Pavel Kolesnikov recorded especially for you ahead of their recital.

BBC Radio 3 broadcast the morning recitals, so if you’ve missed any you can listen to them on demand for a limited period of time.

Contemporary music

We’ll remember the summer of 2017 with the haunting melodies and powerful lyrics that we heard at the fantastic performances by PJ Harvey; Château Marmont Hotel’s Room 29, we spent time with the ghosts of its past guests channelled by Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzales; and also when Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields told and sang the story of his life in his 50 Song Memoir concerts. Watch the video below to hear a song introducing a very special cat...


In August, the audiences had a chance to feel the energy of Boy Blue Entertainment’s bold hip-hop moves, be awed by Rosas breath-taking lightness in Rain, and get inspired by María Pagés Company’s flamboyant flamenco. Let’s take a look at Nederlands Dans Theater’s diverse power bill at the International Festival.

Spirit of ‘47

As part of the Spirit of ’47 programme co-curated with British Council, we welcomed artists and writers from all over the world. They joined us in Edinburgh to discuss how the founding ideals of the festival are still relevant today. The Spirit of ’47 lives on thanks to our friends at BBC Arts Digital. Visit their Spirit of ‘47 mini-site to view full recordings of New European Songbook and Spirited Voices, exclusive excerpts from MINEFIELD and New and Now, and lots of interviews with the artists and speakers who contributed to this special 70th anniversary programme. Don’t miss the full recording of the keynote event with Paul Auster presented by the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

As a little throwback to one of the Spirit of ’47 performances, take a look at the video from Benjamin Clementine’s concert below.

Virgin Money Fireworks Concert

Families and friends gathered in Princes Street Gardens for the traditional end of summer festival season finale. The Edinburgh Castle was transformed into a sparkling kaleidoscope of pyrotechnics made of over 400,000 fireworks, including the magical ‘waterfall’ cascading down the Castle walls. This spectacular 45 minute display was choreographed to music performed live by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, joined for the first part of the concert by the Scottish folk singer Karen Matheson, vocalist with Celtic supergroup Capercaillie. As the last firework fizzled out, the 70th anniversary Edinburgh International Festival came to an end.

See you next year!

We’ll be back 3-27 August 2018, so you can mark your calendars already and join us in counting down the days. As you are going through your summer photos, share your wonderful memories from the International Festival with us online using #EdintFest – we love hearing from you! We are already working on the 2018 International Festival, so make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as signing up to the newsletter to be the first one to know about our news.

In the meantime, make sure to explore our special anniversary website, full of fascinating archive videos, photos and stories from the 70 years of the International Festival, and there are even more videos from 2017 and previous years on our YouTube channel. Enjoy!

Photos by Beth Chalmers, 2017 International Festival Photographer