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Article published 13/04/2021

Edinburgh International Festival, the world’s leading performing arts festival, has today (13 April) announced a reimagined festival for 2021 which marks the return of live performance to Edinburgh. Taking place from 7 to 29 August, the 2021 International Festival will use bespoke outdoor venues to safely reunite artists and audiences to rediscover the magic of live performance. 

A selection of performance spaces across the city will include three temporary outdoor pavilions designed especially for live performance. The pavilions will be situated at iconic city locations including Edinburgh Park and the University of Edinburgh’s Old College Quad and will feature covered concert stages and socially distanced seating. 

The International Festival is working with the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council and other relevant authorities to implement appropriate Covid safety measures. These include shorter performances with no intervals, physical distancing, regular cleaning, and contactless ticketing. Full details of the Festival’s security measures will be published in the coming months. 

As part of an ongoing commitment to accessibility, the International Festival will release a selection of high-quality streamed performances free of charge during each week of the Festival, for audiences in Edinburgh and around the world to enjoy from home.  

Edinburgh’s summer festivals were officially cancelled almost exactly a year ago. Today, we are delighted to announce that in August 2021 the Edinburgh International Festival will return to live performance.

While there are still uncertainties ahead, we are confident that this programme will give us the very best chance of delivering a season of live performance from 7 – 29 August. All our planning will be led by the advice we continue to receive from our partners in Government.

We appreciate that these first steps back to live performances will be for audiences closer to home but are delighted to offer a parallel programme of digital work for those further afield. We are hugely grateful to the artists who have agreed to come on this journey with us, the stakeholders, donors, and sponsors who have stood by us through a tough year and our audiences who have cheered us along throughout. We look forward to sharing full details of the programme in early June.

Welcome back to live performance, welcome back to your Festival.

Fergus Linehan, Festival Director at Edinburgh International Festival

Edinburgh is the world’s leading festival city, so it is great to see the festivals starting to re-emerge after last year’s cancellation. As one of Edinburgh and Scotland’s key event and cultural assets, the Edinburgh International Festival has continuously shown its innovation and creativity when it comes to delivering the festival so it is encouraging to see them embrace the hybrid format to allow for the potential for artists and local audiences to enjoy live performance while those further afield will still be able to enjoy the magic of the festival through streamed performances.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events

Full details of the 2021 programme, which spans opera, orchestral and chamber music, theatre and contemporary music, will be announced on Wednesday 2 June before general booking opens on Friday 11 June.  

Visit for further information about the 2021 Edinburgh International Festival.