Highlights from the Edinburgh International Festival 2016

In the wake of World War Two, the cultural life of Scotland had suffered drastically. Europe had been devastated by loss of life, and the creatives and academics of Edinburgh sensed a need for people to unite and rebuild the artistic community.

It is from this sense of optimism that the Edinburgh International Festival was born. Intended to provide "a platform for the flowering of the human spirit", it has since become one of the world’s most important cultural gatherings. Throughout the year, the team behind the International Festival travel the world to seek out the most innovative and exciting artists, so the quality remains unparalleled.

This year, choreographer and dancer Akram Khan was invited to bring his new show Chotto Desh to the International Festival. Reworked from his autobiographical solo performance DESH, the show is his first aimed at the whole family and features animations of crocodiles, elephants and butterflies set to a mesmeric musical score by Jocelyn Pook. The story tells of "a young man’s dreams and memories from Bangladesh to Britain", and blends the intimate with the epic in Khan’s signature style. You can take a look at the show in the video at the bottom of the page. 

The International Festival is renowned for its diversity of talent. Known as an accordionist and "inventor of oddball electronic instruments", Martin Green was this year invited to perform Flit, a brooding, atmospheric album about migration set to stop-motion animation. The songwriting process was collaborative, bringing in different voices and shared authorship to reflect on the experiences of people forced to move away from their homes. Take a look at how this collaborative process works in the video below. 

As part of a double bill of contemporary Scottish ballet, Crystal Pite’s Emergence sees a troupe of dancers evoke the hypnotic, ritualistic behaviour of insects as they swarm and swirl the stage. The elegant and the animalistic are brought together, as the stage is transformed into a strange, hive-like space. In the video at the bottom, Pite discusses the various animal "forces" that she draws together in the piece. 

As an opportunity to witness some of the world’s best performers and artists in the most historic and intimate of cities, the International Festival is unsurpassed. It was built on the twin foundations of diversity and quality, and this is reflected in the array of shows at this year’s festival.

Watch our 2016 festival highlights 


Fusing dance, storytelling, interactive animation and specially composed music, Chotto Desh is a bewitching dance-theatre tale of a young man’s dreams and memories from Britain to Bangladesh, created for children and their families to enjoy together. 


Martin Green's new work Flit is coming to Edinburgh International Festival. It explores migration through dark, atmospheric songs and live animation. Green and animators whiterobot discuss how the project came into being and why they are excited to be working with a 'dream team' of musicians. 


Sensuality, brutality and spellbinding spectacle come together in a double bill of major contemporary dance works from Scotland’s national ballet company, radically contrasting in their dance styles, but equally powerful in their extreme emotional impact.

Chotto Desh ©

Courtesy of Akram Khan Company | Photo: Dennis Alamanos

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