Edinburgh International Festival 2023: Top Picks

The best theatre, dance, opera and more that the International Festival programme has to offer

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Alvin Ailey American Dance
Photo by Dario Calmese
Published 26 Jul 2023

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Festival Theatre, 23-25 Aug, 7.30pm (Programme 1); 24-24 Aug, times vary (Programme 2) 

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater present two programmes of inspiring dance at this year's International Festival. In Programme 1, they perform Aszure Barton's BUSK, Kyle Abraham's Are You In Your Feelings? and Revelations, the most widely viewed modern dance work in the world. Programme 2 combines three beloved works by Alvin Ailey himself, including Revelations, The River and Memoria. 

As Far As Impossible
The Lyceum, 11-14 Aug, times vary

Director Tiago Rodrigues delves into the minds of humanitarian workers. This multilingual performance explores the effects of leading a double life between conflict zones and peaceful homes. How do such experiences reshape our perceptions of the world and our own existence?

Bluebeard's Castle
Church Hill Theatre, 23-27 Aug, 8pm

New opera company Theatre of Sound reimagines Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle, accompanied by musicians from the Hebrides Ensemble. Judith and Bluebeard's once happy home is now a place of disappearing memories, as the couple face the challenges of dementia. 

Church Hill Theatre, 15-19 Aug, 7pm

A stunning visual performance combining puppetry, video, mime and clowning from two award-winning Belgian companies. As the world ends amidst climate chaos, a family attempts to spend a normal Sunday together, while three travelling wildlife reporters do their best to document the apocalypse.

EIFF @ Edinburgh International Festival
Various venues, 18-23 Aug

A dynamic film programme featuring the exceptional work of local and global filmmakers. This year's EIFF opens with the world premiere of Silent Roar, the debut feature from Scottish writer and director Johnny Barrington, and closes with BAFTA-nominated director Babak Jalali's Fremont.

GRIT in the Gardens
Princes Street Gardens, 6 Aug, 3pm

The GRIT Orchestra kick off the International Festival in style, rounding off a free celebration in the Gardens, featuring a new world premiere accompanied by over 100 young people.

The Queen’s Hall, 17 Aug, 9pm

The Irish radical folk group bring their recently released and highly praised fourth album, False Lankum, to Edinburgh. The Dublin-based four-piece are known for their atmospheric blend of gothic intensity, immersive soundscapes and spellbinding melodies.

The Rite of Spring / common ground[s] 
Edinburgh Playhouse, 17-19 Aug, 7.30pm

The revival of Pina Bausch's The Rite of Spring brings together 34 performers from 14 African countries on an earth-covered stage. The evening starts with common ground[s]: a first time collaboration between Germaine Acogny and Malou Airaudo, and a tender exploration of shared history.

The Threepenny Opera
Festival Theatre, 18-20 Aug, times vary

Berliner Ensemble’s UK premiere of Brecht's masterpiece. The Threepenny Opera satirises capitalism while telling a captivating story of love, betrayal and what’s right and wrong.

Trojan Women
Festival Theatre, 9-11 Aug, 7.30pm

Greek tragedy and traditional Korean storytelling combine in a production by the National Changgeuk Company of Korea. Ong Keng Sen directs a tale of strength during the aftermath of war in a show featuring original music by K-pop producer (and Parasite composer) Jung Jae-il, and Pansori master Ahn Sook-sun.