Edinburgh International Festival Unveils 70th Anniversary Programme

15 March 2017, 12:51 | Updated: 15 March 2017, 12:54

EdFest 70

A large-scale public arts event involving light and music will kick off this year's Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) as it celebrates its 70th anniversary.

The free opening spectacle, entitled Bloom, will take place at an undisclosed central Edinburgh location and will be put together by the producers of the acclaimed launch events of the last two years.

Organisers said the outdoor event will use illuminations and projections to celebrate ''the explosion of colour, vibrancy and optimism'' that came with the arrival of the festival in 1947 in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The announcement came as the full programme for this summer's festival was unveiled, bringing 2,020 artists from 40 nations together to perform in Scotland's capital between August 4 and 28.

The 2017 line-up features a diverse range of artists across theatre, dance and music, including singer-songwriter Jarvis Cocker, Mercury Prize winner PJ Harvey, violinist Nicola Benedetti, playwright Alan Ayckbourn and renowned Milan orchestra Filarmonica della Scala.

Festival director Fergus Linehan said: ''Since 1947, the international festival has extended an invitation from the people of Scotland to people all over the world, to join us in celebrating the unparalleled creativity and talent that great artists bring to Edinburgh.

''In our 70th anniversary year, it feels more important than ever perhaps that we celebrate the founding values of the international festival and that through a shared celebration of artistic excellence and cultural exchange, we 'provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit' and to continue to welcome the world to our city.''

In addition to Cocker and Harvey, this year's contemporary music programme also features The Magnetic Fields, sitar star Anoushka Shankar and Australian chanteuse Meow Meow.

Nine operas feature in the expanded opera programme, with highlights including Puccini's La Boheme, Verdi's Macbeth and Mozart's Don Giovanni.

British bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel will star in a concert at the Usher Hall.

Other orchestras visiting the festival include the Bergen Philharmonic, the Halle Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

Theatre highlights include The Old Vic, which performed at the first festival in 1947, with a world premiere written by Ayckbourn. The Divide is described as a darkly satirical love story presented in two parts at the King's Theatre over two weeks.

In dance, the Nederlands Dans Theatre company returns to Edinburgh after an 11-year absence while hip-hop comes to The Lyceum Theatre with East London's Boy Blue Entertainment.

The EIF will be brought to a conclusion with the traditional Virgin Money fireworks concert. Further details of the Standard Life-sponsored opening event will be released in the coming months.

The festival was established two years after the Second World War to ''provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit'' through a shared celebration of artistic excellence and cultural exchange.

Scotland's Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: ''The Edinburgh International Festival has entertained, delighted and provoked audiences for 70 years, helping to shape Scotland's identity as progressive, welcoming and world-renowned in its delivery of high-quality arts.''