College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences


Festival ties run deep

The University is to play a starring role in a spectacular light show marking the start of the Edinburgh Festivals.

Deep Time is an epic outdoor digital artwork, delving into 350 million years of history, all beamed on to Edinburgh Castle and the Castle Rock.

The story will erupt in front of an audience of 27,000 people, making it one of the largest visual art spectacle ever to be held in Scotland.  

The show will celebrate the findings of Edinburgh alumnus and Enlightenment figure, James Hutton. His theory of deep time shattered conventional thinking that Earth was thousands – rather than millions – of years old.

Researchers from science, arts and humanities have lent their expertise to help tell the story of the earth and the ideas behind Hutton’s world-changing theory.    

This spectacular show is another cutting-edge project demonstrating our long-standing and inspiring partnership with the Edinburgh International Festival and our pioneering work with the digital arts.

Professor Dorothy MiellVice-Principal and Head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Deep Time - Sunday 7 August at 10.30pm

Find out more about the Edinburgh International Festival's opening event:

Deep Time overview

Listen to top academics explain the history and theories behind Deep Time:           

The Big Idea podcast

Digital showcase

Staff and students are also taking part in the inaugural Digital Entertainment Festival – a new programme in the Festival Fringe that explores how the arts intersect with cutting-edge technology.   

Design Informatics students and researchers will exhibit designs centred on the theme Living with Data. The work will be on show in a specially commissioned structure on George Street from 4 – 28 August.

Visitors can experience technology that allows you to get married for five minutes, have a cup of tea using a bitcoin coffee machine and try out intelligent furniture.

As part of the Digital Entertainment Festival, PhD student Pete Furniss will perform an atmospheric clarinet solo, honouring the work of Pierre Boulez, a contemporary composer who died in 2016.

During the piece, the live clarinet will be interspersed with pre-recorded sounds and visually arresting effects.

Find out more on the Edinburgh Digital Entertainment Festival website

Vital role

The University will be uniquely embedded in all the Edinburgh festivals throughout August.

Academics will deliver thought-provoking talks, curate exhibitions and produce avant-garde concerts.

Student societies will produce a number of shows for the Festival Fringe and graduates from the Masters in Playwriting will debut their work at the Traverse Theatre.

Many of the University’s buildings and outdoor areas will be transformed into performance spaces and eateries for festival-goers to enjoy.  

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Win tickets

To celebrate the University’s many links with the festivals, a number of competitions have been organised.

Visitors, residents, staff and students are being asked to share pictures of their festival experience using hashtag #heartedfest for the chance to win tickets and other prizes and to access exclusive events.

Visit the festivals website for more information and terms and conditions.

Related links

Edinburgh International Festival Deep Time blog