Northern Ireland Opera performing in Beijing as part of UK NOW

Together with cultural institutes in the UK and overseas, and a range of corporate sponsors, foundations, trusts and patrons, we respond to international cultural opportunities. 

If you would like further information on how to get involved with any of our current or future seasons please email the team at

Explore a few our previous seasons

Bloom in Edinburgh. Photo: (c) Chris Scott
Bloom in Edinburgh. Part of  Spirit of '47, a 70th anniversary collaboration between the British Council and Edinburgh International Festival. ©

Phot - Chris Scott

Studio Myerscough's installation MIRAR – Ways of Seeing, a giant camera obscura built in Mexico City, as part of UK in Mexico
Opening of The Golden Age of Russian Avant-Garde at Moscow’s Manege Museum ©

Peter Greenaway 

Making digital happen at the Fak’Ugesi Digital Innovation Festival 2014 at the onedotzero workshop for Connect ZA

Spirit of ’47 at Edinburgh International Festival (2017)

In 1947, in the wake of the Second World War, Edinburgh International Festival was founded in an attempt to rebuild bridges across Europe through arts and culture.

70 years on, British Council and Edinburgh International Festival's season of performance and discussion reignited the Spirit of '47 in celebration of international cultural collaboration in today's fast-changing world.

Working with BBC Arts Digital, we presented many of the Spirit of '47 events online to a worldwide audience.

Experience the highlights from Spirit of '47.

Shakespeare Lives (2016)

To mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, we invited the world to take part in a programme of events and activities to celebrate the world’s most famous playwright – a writer for all people and nations.

The British Council and the GREAT Britain campaign worked with a host of theatres, museums, educators and artists on brand new productions of Shakespeare’s plays, film adaptations, public readings and educational resources for schools and English language learners of all ages. 

Explore the highlights from Shakespeare Lives.

UK in Mexico (2015)

UK in Mexico, organised by British Council and British Embassy, featured close to 400 events and programmes in all 32 states and was attended by 1.5 million people with a media reach of 1.3 billion. The season covered arts, education, science and trade, and there was a reciprocal year of Mexico in the UK. 

Highlights included the UK as Guest of Honour at several festivals, most notably the Guadalajara International Book Fair (a major multi-arts festival in its own right), Mexico City’s Science and Technology Week and Baja California’s Agricultural Fair. Other arts highlights included Tate’s Landscapes of the Mind exhibition at the National Museum of Art, an exhibition by artist David Shrigley, and a social inclusion programme centering around dance. 

Explore the highlights from the UK in Mexico season.

Connect ZA (South Africa 2013-14)

Connect ZA, was developed to help rebuild a strong cultural connection between the two countries, particularly amongst 18-35 year olds: a generation of people who have spent their whole adult life in the new democracy and are now in a position to shape and influence the cultural life of their country.

From 2013 to 2015, the programme contributed to around 100 projects, which engaged over 5,000 aspiring and established practitioners and drew audiences in the region of 420,000 people. Connect ZA continues to develop projects, to reach new and diverse audiences for the arts and to stimulate innovation and skills exchange.

UK/Russia (2014)

The UK/Russia Year of Culture 2014 consisted of 343 events across 13 Russian cities involving 178 UK and Russian institutions and partners. The season reached 12.35 million people through live events and online.

The most popular events with Russian audiences were exhibitions of the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde; a multimedia exhibition, The Golden Age of Russian Avant-Garde, devised by Peter Greenaway; a programme of restored Hitchcock silent films with new contemporary scores; and the Barbican’s exhibition Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style.

UK NOW (China 2012)

UK NOW was an 8-month arts festival organised by British Council. Comprised of 225 events in 29 cities UK NOW reached an audience of over 4 million people and tens of millions more through China’s booming social media. The festival took place before and after the London 2012 Olympic Games, creating a year of unprecedented British sporting and cultural activity.

Apart from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing, UK NOW took in cities as far afield as Harbin in the north-east, Kashgar in the far west, and Xiamen in the south-east. In all, 776 artists presented in 166 venues. From Tony Cragg, Akram Khan and A S Byatt to the National Theatre of Scotland, Northern Ireland Opera, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.