Artists explore cities and change at the Edinburgh festivals 2021

Join us for live and online events including dance films, city stories, showcases and the future of festivals

The back of a women, wearing headphones, in a city street at night with lightsNiqabi Ninja (12–28 August) is an audio performance, created in reaction to sexual assaults in Cairo, from writer Sara Shaarawi and director Catrin Evans. Image: Tiu Makkonen


Edinburgh festival events

International artists reflect on their relationships with their home cities. Leaders from around the world explore the future of festivals. Performance makers from different parts of the UK share their latest works.

The British Council supports a range of performances and events at the Edinburgh festivals this year. Some are in person, some online, and all involve international exchange. There are also showcase events designed for international theatre and dance partners, some of which we’re involved in and others we’re eagerly waiting to experience.

See below for a round-up of what’s on and how to book.

Find out more

This listing is a tiny part of the festivals – there are hundreds of performances and arts events, with more than ever happening online – so explore the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Edinburgh International Festival websites for further inspiration.

If you’d like to get more involved, the Fringe has two new digital offers:

Fringe Connect
Digital events and social networking for arts industry professionals and artists. Some of the below events are part of the Fringe Connect programme.

Fringe Marketplace
Online showcasing platform that connects programmers, presenters and commissioners with professional artists and tour-ready work at the Fringe.


 A black man does a running jump in a city street with a bright blue skyChoreographer Gregory Maqoma presents the premiere of Retrace-Retract, a film exploring life in Soweto, as part of Dancing in the Streets (20–21 August)


Performance and films


Niqabi Ninja (in person)

Edinburgh International Festival

12–28 August

Combining street artwork, audio-story performance and a walk through a Scottish city, Niqabi Ninja is a graphic-novel style revenge story written in reaction to the 2012–2014 mob sexual assaults in Tahrir Square, Cairo.

Presented simultaneously in five locations across Scotland, this is a collective experience from writer Sara Shaarawi and director Catrin Evans offering the space to think about what it means to walk in public without fear.

Created in association with Hewar Company (Alexandria) and co-commissioned by Shubbak Festival. Supported by the British Council’s Digital Collaboration Fund and Creative Scotland’s Sustaining Creative Development Fund.

Find out more and book (tickets to buy)


Dancing in the Streets (in person or online)

Edinburgh International Festival

2021 August

A series of filmic postcards from the streets of cities around the world. Four of the world’s most acclaimed choreographers, Alice Ripoll from São Paulo, Omar Rajeh from Beirut, Gregory Maqoma from Soweto and Janice Parker from Edinburgh have created short films with their dancers, responding to the past year and reflecting on their relationship with their home cities.

This event is supported by British Council Scotland through an R&D grant working towards the Edinburgh festivals’ 75th anniversary in 2022.

Find out more and book (tickets to buy)


A train carriage on train tracks with a colourful structure at its entranceThe GogolFest train is an art space and venue that houses a mobile youth forum in August 2021. Festival director Andrii Palatnyi is on the panel for our online talk about the future of festivals (25 August). Image: Artem Galkins



International Festivals: How we work now (online)

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

25 August 2021 | 14:0015:30 (BST)

What does it mean to be an international festival in a world where border closures and travel bans are more widespread than ever before? How can events be truly international when travel restrictions persist and the environmental crisis demands attention?

Join our panel of international festivals that have adapted their practices to ensure their international purpose, artists and audiences are maintained and nourished in the face of adversity. Hear how they have reshaped their strategies and how they see the future of festivals.

This talk is partnered by the British Council as part of our work helping to build links between UK and international arts festivals.

The event is free but you’ll need to sign up to Fringe Connect to access it – details below.


Cheryl Martin (Black Gold Arts, UK)

Andrii Palatnyi (GogolFest, Ukraine)

Rucera Seethal (National Arts Festival, South Africa)


Neil Webb, Director Theatre and Dance, British Council

How to book (free but sign-up required)

1. Sign up to Fringe Connect to access the website

2. Book a free place for the event.


Watch the trailer for an online showcase featuring extracts of new performance pieces from Northern Ireland, plus Q&As with the artists (25 August)


From around the UK

Made in Scotland (in person and online)

331 August

Made in Scotland 2021 supports 10 exciting performance works at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Scottish artists and companies share innovative pieces of music, dance and theatre, and explore international opportunities.

This year’s programming panel brought together a range of specialists in international performing arts, including Neil Webb, our Director Theatre and Dance.

Anyone can watch the performances by booking tickets through the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. If you’re a promoter, you can register on the Made in Scotland website.

Find out more and register


Horizon (online)

From 16 August, with a public programme during the week of 23 August

Horizon is a vibrant new performance showcase designed to celebrate visionary artists and cultural leaders who are currently making work in England.

Born out of a new approach to build deep and sustainable collaborations, this pilot year delivers an exploratory programme of presentations and residencies that connects new work and ideas with international partners during the Edinburgh festivals in August 2021.

Horizon is commissioned by Arts Council England, and delivered by Battersea Arts Centre, Dance4, Fierce Festival, GIFT, MAYK and Transform.

If you’re a presenter, curator or artist, you can register and access events on Horizon’s website.

Find out more and register


Spotlight on Theatre and Dance from Northern Ireland (online)

25 August 2021 | 11:00-12:30 (BST)

A showing of video extracts of new performance pieces from Northern Ireland, followed by a livestreamed and interactive Q&A with the creators and artists.

The showcase includes:

Body Politics by Jo Egan. Produced by Macha Productions.

The Shedding of Skin by Vittoria Cafolla. Produced by Kabosh Theatre Company.

Epilogue: A Dancer Dies Twice: A Dancer Dies Twice by Eileen McClory and collaborators Conan McIvor, Sandy Cuthbert, Jane Mooney, and Maria McManus. Commissioned and produced by Maiden Voyage Dance.

Sadie by David Ireland, a Lyric Theatre Production in association with Field Day Theatre Company, broadcast for BBC Arts’s Lights Up festival as part of Culture in Quarantine.

Immaculate written and performed by Louise Mathews. Produced by Tinderbox Theatre Company.

Inside the Speaker by dancer and choreographer Helen Hall.

The event is curated and supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland and British Council Northern Ireland, Theatre and Dance NI and Belfast International Arts Festival.

How to book (free but sign-up required)

1. Sign up to Fringe Connect to access the website

2. Book a free place for the event.


Performances and events from Wales (in person and online)

Throughout August

There are several Welsh organisations performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in person, live online and on demand, including:

Dirty Protest Theatre with Kill Me Now and Double Drop

Deaf & Fabulous with Taking Flight, Theatrau Sir Gar and the Welfare Ystradgynlais present FOW

Avant Cymru with Hydro Jam Digital and Twelfth Night

Hijinx Theatre and its award winning show Metamorphosis

National Theatre Wales presents Possible by Shôn Dale-Jones

National Dance Company Wales’s double bill Why Are People Clapping and Moving is everywhere, forever

And This is Wales presents a free talk on 26 August asking: Is the future hybrid? A look at how a hybrid model of digital and live performance can support us in creating a sector experience that responds to urgent local and global challenges and keeps us connected. Sign up to Fringe Connect to access the event booking.



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