Festival Opener 2024 Will Celebrate Creative Life Force of Edinburgh and Its Festival

Submitted by edg on Wed, 19 Jun '24 2.24am
George Heriot's School is location for the EIF 2024 opening event Where to Begin
EIF/Daniel Quirke

The Edinburgh International Festival’s Opening Event “Where to Begin” will take place at George Heriot’s school in 2024. The grounds of the private school have been used in the past as a Fringe venue by the BBC, but this is the first time that the Edinburgh International Festival has made use of the Lauriston location.

It’s noteworthy that, whereas in previous years the Festival’s Opening Event has been a free affair, “Rituals That Unite Us” will incur a £15 (£7.50 for concessions) fee, with 3,000 tickets available for each night.

The “large-scale, visually spectacular outdoor event” is being devised by Creative Director Katy Fuller and her team at Pinwheel and will take place from dusk on three nights from Friday 2 August to Sunday 4 August, with the final night audio described and captioned.

The event “welcomes visitors from near and far to discover and share in a new ritual together, for the International Festival and the city of Edinburgh…(it) blends immersive installation, live performance, music, large-scale video projection and captivating storytelling for a large-scale communal experience, celebrating the creative force of the city and the International Festival.”

Festival Director, Nicola Benedetti said of “Where to Begin”:

“We know audiences will be blown away by this spectacle, and we're proud to show the formidable creative power and potential of Edinburgh and its people to the world. It's an event that beckons us to find new ways to experience and appreciate our city.”

The piece takes as its inspiration “Edinburgh’s iconic landscape as a city built on layers and imagines what hidden power may be found in those vaults and tunnels,” says the Festival, with “participatory moments” drawing on traditions like First Footing.

“Visitors are welcomed to the grounds of George Heriot's, which comes alive with the flicker of flames. They will be taken on a journey through this extraordinary environment before congregating to experience the story of why they are gathered there, played out as a spectacular video projection.”

Pinwheel’s creative team includes theatre-maker Simon Sharkey, video by Yeast Culture, original score by composer Roma Yagnik, poetry and prose by writer and dramaturg Davey Anderson, fire installation by AndNow, production design by Becky Minto and lighting design by Phil Supple.

Pinwheel’s previous works include projection festival “North of the Tyne, Under the Stars” which celebrated the landscape and legends of the region, “Land of Green Ginger” for Hull UK City of Culture, and a portfolio of projects with artists ranging from dreamthinkspeak to Antony Gormley.

“Our story pays tribute to this most remarkable of cities and the unstoppable creative energy which pervades it every August,” said Creative Director of Pinwheel, Katy Fuller.

“We celebrate the alchemy that happens when exceptional artistry meets expectant audience and the connection, emotion and inspiration that characterises a festival in full force.”

The event is supported by principal partner The Macallan whisky company with additional support from Scottish tourism agency, EventScotland.

Opening Event: Where to Begin is a ticketed experience, with tickets at £15 and concessions from £7.50 available. The event runs from 2-4 August. Entry is between 9:45pm and 10:15pm.