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The 2016 International Festival Welcomed the World to Edinburgh

Published: 29 Aug 2016

Virgin Money Fireworks Concert. photo: Dave Stewart 

The 2016 International Festival welcomed audiences from 84 countries to Scotland’s capital city. At the helm of his second International Festival programme, Director Fergus Linehan brought over 2,400 world-class artists from 36 nations together in a Festival programme for everyone.

Audiences have packed theatres and concert halls across Edinburgh, with the International Festival taking over £4million in ticket sales income for the first time. Classical music ticket sales in particular enjoyed a record year, with the Queen’s Hall series achieving its highest ever sales.

Free, outdoor events such as the Standard Life Opening Event: Deep Time and the closing Virgin Money Fireworks Concert take the International Festival outside of the city’s established venues. Approximately 27,000 people attended the Standard Life Opening Event: Deep Time, which saw Edinburgh Castle transformed by digitally animated projections inspired by the city’s past, created by 59 Productions. Tonight an estimated audience of 250,000 is expected to enjoy the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert performed live by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in Princes St Gardens, and enjoyed by many others across the city.

The 2016 International Festival saw top rated shows and incredible performances across the programme. Artists at the top of their game enjoying phenomenal success included world-renowned mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli in Bellini’s Norma which opened the Festival programme; actor Cherry Jones in John Tiffany’s production of The Glass Menagerie; pianist Daniil Trifonov proved both his virtuosity and versatility across three programmes at the Usher and Queen’s Halls; prima ballerina Natalia Osipova transfixed audiences by taking a new direction in her specially commissioned contemporary dance programme; and performer James Thierrée brought incredible genre-busting energy to the stage in The Toad Knew.

Other audience highlights included concerts by Sigur Ros, Mogwai and Greg Lawson’s presentation of Martyn Bennet’s GRIT, all of which mesmerised fans at the Edinburgh Playhouse; singer-songwriter Karine Polwart’s Wind Resistance quickly emerged as a must-see; Scottish Ballet’s searing performance ofwork byCrystal Pite and Angelin Preljocaj stunned audiences over three evenings; and the hugely popular Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs which sold out over three weeks at The Hub.

Though rooted in the city centre, the International Festival reaches into wider communities and throughout August worked with local school children of all ages, taking artists and workshops into schools, as well as bringing pupils to Festival shows. The International Festival’s Young People’s Jury of 25 pupils from six Edinburgh High Schools attended – and judged in their own inimitable style – 19 performances across the programme. The International Festival also moved outward from the city centre into locations across Edinburgh and the Lothians with Songlines, an event which saw communities take part in a unique celebration of singing, featuring 12 choirs and soloists across 8 venues stretching from Dalmeny across Edinburgh to Haddington.

The 2016 International Festival programme also included the Edinburgh International Culture Summit, a biennial event which brought together culture ministers, artists, thinkers and arts leaders from around the world. Policy makers underlined the value of placing arts and culture at the heart of both local and global communities, and reinforced their commitment to the arts and cultural industries as vital means of international cooperation and exchange.

International Festival  Director, Fergus Linehan said: At the end of three incredible weeks, all that remains is for us to thank the hundreds of artists and hundreds of thousands of audience members who continue to make the Edinburgh International Festival one of the wonders of the arts world. The International Festival has always been a place for people of all nationalities to meet and exchange ideas and we’ve seen that everywhere across the city these past three weeks. In uncertain times, events like this feel ever more important, and we at the International Festival are honoured to have been able to host, inspire, entertain and moreover welcome so many artists and visitors from all over the world to our city’.

Janet Archer, CEO of Creative Scotland said: "The Edinburgh International Festival brings inspirational international artists to the Scottish capital and provides an increasingly important platform for Scotland’s incredible artistic talent. It’s wide ranging and diverse programme has once more attracted audiences from across the world, contributing significantly to the economy, and reaffirming Edinburgh's status as a world city recognised globally for its culture and creativity of all forms."

Councillor Richard Lewis, Edinburgh’s Festivals Champion, said: "It has been another fantastic summer in Edinburgh and the International Festival’s figures speak for themselves. A staggering number of artists and Festival workers have created what can only be described as one of the most vibrant, inclusive programmes in the event’s 69-year old history. Thanks must go to everyone who made this year’s International Festival such a great success, the many people working hard behind the scenes to keep the city moving and the tens of thousands of visitors to Edinburgh."

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: "Music, theatre, dance and culture have been at the heart of the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival which is supported by the Scottish Government's Expo Fund. Over the last three weeks, we've witnessed a number of outstanding performances, including the flagship production, Flit by Martin Green to Karin Polwart’s sell-out production Wind Resistance. I congratulate the International Festival on another hugely successful and diverse programme."


Notes to Editors

International Festival 2016

  • This year the International Festival presented over 2,400 artists from 36 nations
  • Ticket sales income reached £4.2million, crossing £4million for the first time 
  • Overall attendance is estimated to be over 440,000
  • Our audience members came from 84 nations
  • Our Young Musicians Passport entered its fourth year with over 1,000 free tickets issued to young people (aged up to 18 years old), an increase of 17% on last year. Popular shows included Maxim Vengerov in Recital, GRIT, Russian National Orchestra 1, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale de Santa Maria, Mahler’s Ninth Symphony and São Paulo Symphony Orchestra
  • The International Festival has produced its own unique filmed portraits and behind-the-scenes footage offering a wider engagement across the world
  • The Standard Life Opening Event: Deep Time was watched by a live audience of approximately 27,000 people. Many more enjoyed it online with the event film being watched by 19,461on YouTube and 106k times on Facebook to date. During the event itself the hashtag #DeepTime trended UK-wide on Twitter
  • The Festival is funded by City of Edinburgh Council, Creative Scotland, the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, Dunard Fund, Lean Scully Fund and many Festival Partners, International Partners and Agencies, Trusts and Foundations, Corporate supporters, many individual givers and those who buy tickets.

About Edinburgh International Festival

  • The Edinburgh International Festival is an unparalleled celebration of the performing arts and an annual meeting point for peoples of all nations. Committed to virtuosity and originality, the International Festival presents some of the finest performers and ensembles from the worlds of dance, opera, music and theatre for three weeks in August.
  • The International Festival continues to attract people both locally and from across the globe, with audiences from 84 nations attending this year as part of the global cultural celebration in Edinburgh.
  • Investment in the International Festival brings thousands of visitors to the city and generates hundred of millions for the economy of Edinburgh and Scotland.
  • In 2015, Edinburgh’s 12 major festivals generated £280m of economic impact in Edinburgh and £313m in Scotland,  sustaining over 6,000 jobs, and attracted attendances of more that 4.5 million, on  a par with the FIFA World Cup and second only to the Olympic Games.

Media contact:

Liz Wallace, Media Relations Manager, 0131 473 2020 / 07708 795 320 / liz.wallace@eif.co.uk

press@eif.co.uk / eif.co.uk

Join the conversation – eif.co.uk / #edintfest / @edintfest

The Edinburgh International Festival receives core grant support from The City of Edinburgh Council and Creative Scotland. Scottish Charity Number SC004694.

Liz Wallace
Media Relations Manager
T +44(0)131 473 2020
M +44(0) 7708 795 320
E liz.wallace@eif.co.uk