Established in 2004, the month-long Edinburgh Art Festival is the newest major addition to Edinburgh's Festivals in August, but it filled a longtime gap. Visual art somehow seemed obscured by the creative mayhem of the rest of the festival before the galleries clubbed together and launched their own festival within the Edinburgh Festival.
In 2024, the Edinburgh Art Festival returns for a second year under the direction of Kim McAleese returns for three weeks in August. McAleese's first curated programme introduced a more ostensibly grass roots approach in its flagship exhibitions, events, and performances.
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The Edinburgh Art Festival takes place in a circuit of galleries and artist-run spaces across the city (too many to list above). In a typical year, there are over 45 exhibitions across more than 30 venues. In 2023, there are 55 projects and exhibitions in around 35 venues.
As are the galleries throughout the year, many of the exhibitions and shows are free.
Highlights are the exhibitions in major art galleries such as the Scottish National Gallery, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, with special installations by leading talents in the Scottish and international art world in the Edinburgh Old Town.
Commercial galleries also get in on the action, often with a focus on contemporary and emerging Scottish artists.
As well as a host of performances, screenings, artist talks and guided tours, and the EAF's Art Late, newcomers to the Edinburgh Art Festival may want to search out the permanent commissions by Callum Innes, Martin Creed, Richard Wright, and Alison Watt.