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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 30/07/2021

Edinburgh’s August festivals are set to return this year with an exciting mix of in-person and online events following the cancellation of last year’s events; and while they will look and operate a little differently to what we’re used to, the festival spirit remains.

The Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh Art Festival and Edinburgh International Book Festival are all returning this August with the Edinburgh International Film Festival joining them from their usual slot in June. Each of the festivals have been supported through either the Scottish Government’s flagship events programme, City of Edinburgh Council or EventScotland’s International Programme.

In addition to developing their programmes to entertain excited audiences, the festivals have also worked hard with health professionals, the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council and other relevant authorities to ensure audiences remain safe while attending performances.

Edinburgh is the world’s leading festival city and it is great to have these five festivals back in 2021 with a mix of online and in-person events. Like all events, the Festivals make a huge contribution to Edinburgh and Scotland, both socially and economically as well as showcasing the country as the perfect stage for events.

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events

Edinburgh Art Festival, 29 July – 29 August

The 17th edition of the Edinburgh Art Festival gets the festival season started with over 35 exhibitions and new commissions in visual art spaces across the city, which is complemented by an online programme of events and digital presentations. This year’s programme continues to place collaboration at its heart, with a series of festival-led commissions and premieres devised and presented in close partnership with leading visual arts organisations and a specially invited programme of new commissions curated in partnership with an Associate Artist.

The full programme is available on the Edinburgh Art Festival website.

Edinburgh International Film Festival, 31 July – 1 August (Film Fest on the Forth) 18 – 25 August

The 74th Edinburgh International Film Festival kicks off with Film Fest on the Forth in celebration of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21 before a fantastic programme of in-person and digital screenings, including 31 new features and 73 shorts, takes place during the heart of the festival season. Celebrating the long-awaited return of cinema, the majority of the screens will take place at the Festival’s home, Filmhouse, with the Opening Gala and Special Preview at Festival Theatre. Film Fest in the City returns to St Andrew square with its ambitious and free programme. There will also be special screenings at partner venues across Scotland, along with introductions, Q&As, in person events and more screenings being available through a dedicated, accessible streaming platform Filmhouse at Home.

See the full programme and book tickets on the Edinburgh International Festival website.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 6 – 30 August

Dating back to 1947, when eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has become the world’s largest arts festival. Returning this year, the Fringe will once again offer audiences a programme full of 673 online and in-person shows covering theatre, musicals, dance, circus, music, variety, visual art, and of course, comedy, in 106 venues across the city including Assembly, Corn Exchange, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance, Summerhall, Travers and Underbelly.  There is also the world-famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe street event, which returns with a scaled-back programme of live performances each day between 11:30 and 20:30 in the High Street’s designated Fringe Safe Street Performance Area, West Parliament Square.

For the full Fringe programme, visit the Edinburgh Festival Fringe website.

Edinburgh International Festival, 7 – 29 August

The festival that started them all, the Edinburgh International Festival returns with a programme filled with over 170 classical and contemporary music, theatre, opera, dance and spoken work performances, including 15 new commissions and premieres. To ensure audience safety, this year’s festival will use outdoor venues including bespoke venues at Edinburgh Junior Academy Junior School, Parabola’s Edinburgh Park development and the University of Edinburgh’s Old College Quad, as well as shorter performances with no intervals, and in a Festival first, online access to 21 free full-length performances.

See the full programme and book tickets on the Edinburgh International Festival website.

Edinburgh International Book Festival, 14 – 30 August

After delivering an online festival comprising 150 events following the cancellation of the in-person festival in 2020, the Edinburgh International Book Festival is back in 2021 with a stellar line-up featuring over 300 writers, artists and thinkers from around the world, all of which will be streamed online, and some with an in-person audience at their new home in the Edinburgh College of Art. Online events will operate on a ‘Pay What you Can’ basis with these events offering fellow book lovers the chance to chat with one another and connect with authors by asking questions in the live Q&As. There is also the chance to catch up on events at any time so there’s no need to worry about missing out. The famous Book Festival Bookshop also returns this year in its new location in the beautiful Old Fire Station building on the festival’s new site on Lauriston Place, while an online bookshop is open 24/7 and will feature titles from author’s in this year’s programme.

See the full programme and book tickets on the Edinburgh International Book Festival website.

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