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Article published 18/06/2024

Edinburgh International Festival launch festival season with spectacular multi-art form experience

The Edinburgh International Festival, in partnership with The Macallan, has today (18 June) announced the full details of Opening Event: Where to Begin. The large-scale visually spectacular outdoor event will open the 2024 International Festival.

Responding to this year’s International Festival theme, Rituals That Unite Us, Opening Event: Where to Begin welcomes visitors from near and far to discover and share in a new ritual together, for the International Festival and the City of Edinburgh.

Opening Event: Where to Begin will transform the grounds and architecture of George Heriot's in Edinburgh’s Old Town, a never-before-used venue for the International Festival. The production is devised by an extraordinary creative team led by Creative Director Katy Fuller at Pinwheel, blending:

  • immersive installation
  • live performance
  • music
  • large-scale video projection
  • captivating storytelling

 George Heriot's School at dusk

Credit: Edinburgh International Festival / Daniel Quirke

This large-scale communal experience celebrates the creative force of the city and the International Festival.

To kickstart Edinburgh’s festival season in style, Opening Event: Where to Begin takes place across three nights, starting at dusk, from Friday 2 August to Sunday 4 August. The final night’s audio will be described and captioned.

Opening Event: Where to Begin takes inspiration from Edinburgh’s iconic landscape as a city built on layers. It imagines what hidden power may be found in those vaults and tunnels.

Visitors are welcomed to the grounds of George Heriot's, which comes alive with the flicker of flames. They will be taken on a journey through this extraordinary environment before congregating to experience the story of why they are gathered there, played out as a spectacular video projection.

The site-specific experience draws on a combined heritage between the incomparable single malt Scotch whisky The Macallan and the International Festival. It celebrates the creativity, excellence and height of achievement that lies within the Scottish identity.

Intricately weaving together stories of Scottish mythology and heritage, participatory moments of the event are anchored in Scottish history, such as the Scottish New Year tradition (Hogmanay) of first footing, and the people of Edinburgh’s donations of coal to light up Edinburgh Castle for the very first International Festival in 1947.

Edinburgh Old Town under the northern lights

Credit: Edinburgh International Festival / Daniel Quirke

Opening Event: Where to Begin is created by Pinwheel, in collaboration with Edinburgh International Festival and principal partner The Macallan with additional support from EventScotland. Led by creative director Katy Fuller, Pinwheel specialises in creating breath-taking outdoor events, underpinned by imaginative storytelling.

This year, we've invited everyone to participate in our 2024 theme, Rituals That Unite Us. Opening Event: Where to Begin in partnership with The Macallan, marks the first of a new ritual, both for our Festival and the city.

We know audiences will be blown away by this spectacle, and we're proud to show the formidable creative power and potential of Edinburgh and its people to the world.

It's an event that beckons us to find new ways to experience and appreciate our city.

Edinburgh International Festival Director, Nicola Benedetti

The Edinburgh International Festival is one of Scotland’s key signature events and cultural assets. EventScotland is proud to be continuing its support of the Festival’s Opening Event, having supported it through our International Programme since its inception in 2015.

Events play an important role in our communities, and as part of an enviable portfolio of annual events and festivals that deliver sustainable impacts and international profile for Scotland, the Opening Event: Where to Begin will provide the perfect stage for visitors and locals to unite and immerse themselves in a unique and memorable experience.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland Director of Events

I'm proud to see The Macallan's creative partnership with the Edinburgh International Festival come to life in August. Both the International Festival and The Macallan hold a deep commitment to excellence and artistic innovation, rooted in our shared, rich Scottish heritage.

As The Macallan celebrates our 200th anniversary this year, we are proud to partner with the International Festival to create an unmissable start to the festival season.

Where to Begin will captivate audiences with stories of Scotland's past, present and future, and will offer the inspiration that only a live event like this can offer.

Jaume Ferràs, Global Creative Director, The Macallan

I’m thrilled to create a new Opening Event for Edinburgh International Festival in partnership with The Macallan.

Our story pays tribute to this most remarkable of cities and the unstoppable creative energy which pervades it every August.

We celebrate the alchemy that happens when exceptional artistry meets expectant audience and the connection, emotion and inspiration that characterises a festival in full force.

We look forward to welcoming audiences to join us and play their part in igniting the 2024 International Festival.

Creative Director of Pinwheel, Katy Fuller

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