Edinburgh International Festival: When is it, what's on, and how to buy tickets?

This year’s Edinburgh International Festival is going ahead, although it will inevitably look a bit different than usual because of the pandemic.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 3:32 pm

The Edinburgh International Festival had to, for obvious reasons, be cancelled last year, but organisers have announced a full programme for the 2021 event – which could be the first major cultural event in Scotland for well over a year.

Here’s what we know so far.

When and where is the Edinburgh International Festival?

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Scotland's own Alan Cumming will be bringing his new cabaret show to the Festival.

The Festival runs from August 6-30 in a number of venues across the city.

In a bid to maximise audiences many of the events will be held in custom-built outdoor venues at Edinburgh Academy Junior School, Parabola's Edinburgh Park development and the University of Edinburgh's Old College Quad. There will also be performances at the Festival Theatre, Traverse Theatre, The Royal Lyceum Theatre and Dance Base. It has been organised so that the shows can go ahead even if social distancing is in place.

What's on?

The programme includes over 170 events, from classical and contemporary music, to theatre, opera, dance and spoken word performances.

Blur frontman Daman Albarn is one of the musical attractions.

Highlights include Star Wars actor Domhnall Gleeson in the world premiere of Enda Walsh’s play ‘Medicine’, two performances from Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti, Alan Cumming’s new cabaret show about ageing, a free opening event entitled ‘Night Light’ in the Royal Botanic Garden, and musical performances from Laura Mvula, Nadine Shah, The Snuts and Damon Albarn.

How do I get tickets?

The number of tickets will be limited due to social distancing and are expected to be very popular.

International Festival members will have access to a priority booking period, with Patron and Patron Plus Members able to buy tickets on Thursday, June 3, and Friend and Friend Plus Members able to book from Friday, June 4. The scheme is currently closed to new members due to limited ticket availability.

Star Wars actor Domhnall Gleeson will be appearing in new play 'Medicine'.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public at www.eif.co.uk at 10am on Friday, June 11. You will need an account to buy tickets so it’s advisable to set one up – or ensure you know your password – the day before.

Should social distancing measures be relaxed, more tickets may become available at a later date.

What if I don’t get tickets?

For the first time ever there will be online access to 21 free full-length performances – so nobody has to miss out entirely.