Lights on for Edinburgh International Festival

 

Edinburgh International Festival gets under way today, with hundreds of runners in luminous suits bringing the landmark Arthur's Seat to life at night during the three-week programme.

Artists from around the world will be in Scotland's capital for performances including two adaptations of Shakespeare plays and a new production of Gulliver's Travels.

It will open tonight with NVA's Speed Of Light art installation, which takes place as part of the London 2012 Festival.

The event will see Edinburgh's extinct volcano in Holyrood Park light up in a mass choreographed act of walking and endurance running.

Runners wearing specially designed light suits will make their way to the summit of Arthur's Seat through the network of paths below, with members of the audience becoming part of the work by carrying portable lights emitting individual sounds triggered by movement and altitude.

The sell-out opening concert at the Usher Hall will honour the 150th anniversary of Frederick Delius, one of the core inspirations of this year's programme.

Throughout the festival, which runs from August 9 to September 2 at various venues across the city, almost 3,000 artists from 47 nations will put on performances of dance, opera, music and theatre.

It includes a performance from violinist Nicola Benedetti, who is to play at the festival for the first time, as she joins the London Symphony Orchestra.

On Saturday, the festival's new theatre venue, the Lowland Hall at the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston, opens with a Polish adaptation of Macbeth set in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Dmitry Krymov brings a new production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (As You Like It).

Gulliver's Travels, directed by Silviu Purcarete, is to be produced in collaboration with Irish musician and composer Shaun Davey.

The newly refurbished King's Theatre is the venue for Japanese theatre director Tadashi Suzuki's first visit to the UK in almost 30 years with his production Waiting For Orestes: Electra.

It also includes morning music sessions at the Queen's Hall, described as "the perfect start to the day", as well as four performances of Prokofiev's Cinderella by the Mariinsky Ballet and orchestra.

Festival director Jonathan Mills said: "Artists are arriving from around the world, the venues are ready, the doves have taken off across town and we're ready to start showing people just how wonderful the shows we have lined up for audiences this year are.

"If you haven't already booked, there are some tickets still available and I urge you to join us."

In the days following the Olympics, the first International Culture Summit will be hosted at the Scottish Parliament, in partnership with the Scottish Government, UK Government and British Council.

It will provide a platform for culture ministers from around the world to hold discussions on the role of culture in international dialogue, organisers said.

On the final night, more than 100,000 fireworks will be set off, choreographed to music, in the annual display.

The festival follows the official launch of Edinburgh Festival Fringe which got under way last Friday.

PA

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