At the heart of festivals

As the spotlight falls on Edinburgh, the University is at the centre of one of the world’s biggest cultural gatherings, now in its 70th year.

The University has been at the heart of Edinburgh’s festivals since its inception.

Many individuals who played a vital role in bringing the International Festival to Edinburgh in 1947 were University staff members or alumni.

Students and staff play a key part in the festival today, and many University buildings are transformed to host venues, eateries and bars as part of the Festival Fringe.

The University at the festivals

Find out more about the University's involvement in Edinburgh's festivals.

The University at the festivals website

Subscribe to our festivals newsletter

Celebrating 70 years

A Fringe event will take place in the University’s Playfair Library, recognising the University’s close ties with the festivals.

Speakers will share fascinating stories, pictures and recordings from the University's collections, giving fresh insight into the early years of the world's Festival City.

An afternoon reception will follow, when audience members are invited to share their memories of the festivals.

The event is free and takes place at 2pm on Friday 18 August.

Literary links

The University is a major sponsor of the Book Festival and there are 26 University-related events in this year’s programme.  Many events are linked to academic research from specialist centres including the Centre for South Asian Studies, the Alwaleed Centre, the Confucius Institute, Digital Humanities and the Centre for Research Collections.

The University also sponsors a number of high-profile events including a conversation with award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Saturday 26 August.  Chimamanda was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize, managed by the University, in 2007 for Half of a Yellow Sun.

This year's James Tait Black Awards, the oldest book prizes in the UK, are being announced on Monday, August 14 at the Book Festival.

Fringe benefits

Students on the University’s Playwriting MSc will have their scripts performed at The Traverse Theatre as part of the Festival Fringe. Pre-View takes place over two nights, in partnership with Playwrights’ Studio Scotland.

Some of the most prominent faces in news and politics are taking part in the University’s Business School Media Series.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, distinguished radio broadcaster Jim Naughtie and Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee are among those that will be interviewed by Professor Chris Cater from the Business School.

A play based on a University research project will also be performed throughout August. The Ties that Bind is a play about the real life experiences of people living with the early stages dementia.

Theatre group Skimstone Arts worked closely with Professor Charlotte Clark, Head of the School of Health and Social Sciences, to provide insight into the subtle relationship changes that someone with dementia experiences when they are diagnosed.

More than 45 academics are also taking part in the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas. The researchers will explore a range of topical and challenging issues, including data’s role in cancer care, extra-terrestrial lifeforms and whether art can reduce poverty. 

Musical highlights

The University’s St Cecilia’s Hall – the oldest purpose-built concert hall in Scotland – will host a series of concerts, tailor-made for the historic venue.

The 18th Century Georgian hall and music museum was closed in 2012 for a £6.5million redevelopment project reopened in May this year.

The distinctive, oval concert room will provide a remarkable backdrop for a programme of classical and early-music concerts. Musicians will perform with some of the exquisite instruments from the University’s world-class keyboard collection.

Iranian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahni will play on the 1769 double-manual Taskin harpsichord – the most famous of its kind in the world. Renowned keyboard player Richard Egarr will play a selection of early music on harpsichords from the 17th and 18th centuries.   

Festival encounters

The University and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland are offering a five-day programme for ambitious producers, programmers, creative artists and performers.

This unique summer school develops artistic entrepreneurial skills in the context of tha Edinburgh International Festival.

Those taking part can attend festival events, and engage with inspiring artists, directors and producers.

Flowering relationship

The University partnered with the Edinburgh International Festival for its spectacular opening event, Bloom.

During the festival’s opening weekend, more than 4,000 people flocked to the city’s St Andrew Square for the epic light show.

A team of researchers and students in Sound Design and Digital Media at Edinburgh College of Art captured content from the event to enable people to interact with it. They will also create a lasting legacy for the epic outdoor artwork.

Related links

The University at the Festivals

Edinburgh’s Festivals and the University of Edinburgh: 70 Years of Collaboration

MSc in Playwriting

Business School Media Series at the Fringe

Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas

The Ties that Bind