Hot Tickets at the Edinburgh International Festival

Submitted by edg on Sat, 2 Apr '11 12.03am

Tickets go on sale this morning (Saturday 2nd April) for the Edinburgh International Festival. EIF director Jonathan Mills has waxed that this year's Far Eastern themed (or "Far Western" as Mills has suggested) festival will be "highly embroidered, exquisite, gorgeous".

"It will intoxicate people with its ravishing beauty," says Mills.

With that in mind, we're asking what are the "must see" shows at this year's festival?

I've started by picking two from each of the main areas of the programme. What are your picks?

It's worth bearing in mind that the EIF has a variety of special deals. Concession card holders can get 50% off select performances and for shows that dont sell out and there are good last minute deals on tickets like £8 on the day for under 26-year-olds.

All the general EIF box office booking info is over on our main Edinburgh International Festival page.

So here's a few possiblities...


  • The Peony Pavilion National Ballet of China's fusion of Chinese and Western traditions of dance and music complete with a symphony orchestra and lavish costumes looks like being a talking point. (13-15 Aug, Festival Theatre)
  • Re-Triptych New York based Chinese choreographer Shen Wei's three part "Re" looks like a bold and dramatic interpretation of "homecoming". The above picture is from Re-(III) (1-3 Sept, 7.30 pm at The Edinburgh Playhouse)


  • Powaqqatsi Remember the mesmerising time-lapse sequences of the film Koyaanisqatsi? Powaqqatsi also hones in on technological evolution, with what is being dubbed "concert cinema". Powaqqatsi combines non-linear, dialogue-free visuals of 12 developing countries with a specially choreographed score by minimalist composer Philip Glass. The Philip Glass Ensemble plays live. (14 Aug, Playhouse)
  • Festival Fireworks Concert An obvious choice, really. The seats in the Ross Band Theatre are the ones to go for. (4 Sept)


  • The Tempest I don't know much about Korean theatre but I've always been impressed by  its cinema, which draws me toward this 90-minute, fantastical re-imagining of Shakespeare's classic blended with Korean narrative and folklore. (13-16 Aug, King's Theatre) 
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Adapted from acclaimed author Haruki Murakami's novel this is a fantastical mystery in English and Japanese with what sounds like mythical thematic qualities. With puppetry, dance and film. Intriguing. (20-24 Aug, King's Theatre)

Contemporary dance and classical ballet has long been a popular highlight of the EIF programme. This year, with an Asian and Eastern cultural umbrella, the promise is of bold colour and visual delight to the eye and exotic music to the ear. 

This will be a fabulous and rare opportunity to experience the finest in Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean dance. 

A must see show for dance lovers will be the National Ballet of China in their production of The Peony Pavilion. This is a classic fairy tale love story, often performed as a 20 hour long Opera now adapted into a 2 hour ballet which received 5 star reviews after its premiere.  The company was originally an Experimental ballet troupe, which then began to train its "cradle of dancers" under the influence of Russian masters. We can perhaps then expect to see a spectacular "show", precision of posture, steps and movement, a passionate music score, matched by exotic sets and costumes. Japanese designer Emi Wada is an Oscar winning  costume designer.

Scottish Ballet has rapidly and gloriously developed into an International dance company - seamlessly moving each season from favourite classics to cutting edge dance.  Buy, beg and steal a ticket to see Scottish Ballet this August, performing two contrasting contemporary dance works.

New Work, (world premiere), is by Jorma Elo from Finland, renowned as one of the most sought-after choreographers in the United States and Europe. He is resident choreographer at Boston Ballet. Winner of numerous awards, he was named a Master Artist by Esquire magazine in 2008. New Work has music by Mozart and Steve Reich - which sounds a rich and powerful combination.

Scottish Ballet will also stage "Song of the Earth" by the Scottish-born Royal Ballet choreographer Kenneth MacMillan. Set to Mahler's song cycle the dance is accompanied by RSNO and two opera singers.

Another exciting production will most likely be Re-Triptych by Chinese choreographer Shen Wei, from New York. The theme covers a spiritual, cultural journey through Tibet, to Angkor Wat and the old Silk Road, with a trio of dances shifting between energetic flight and quiet meditation. The soundtrack features Cambodian folk songs to bring a real sense of place and culture.

Well, that's the first day of ticket sales at the EIF. Here are the early best-sellers as reported by the EIF:

  • The National Ballet of China (see above)
  • Mariinsky Opera company
  • Mahler’s Symphony No 2
  • Opening Concert

Other notable facts:

  • 63% of tickets were sold online
  • first day sales set to top £260,000