Edinburgh's August Festivals will not take place in 2020

Edinburgh's August Festivals will not take place in 2020

credit: David Monteith Hodge

Edinburgh's five major festivals confirmed to not be going ahead as planned

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to negatively affect the creative sector, there have been many event and festival cancellations in recent weeks, both concerning events in spring and summer. The latest major announcement comes from the Edinburgh Festivals, who have made the very difficult decision to pause, take stock and not go ahead as planned. Edinburgh Art Festival, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo are all confirmed to be cancelled at this point.

As the world's biggest celebration of the arts and a huge economic and social boost for the city of Edinburgh itself, this news is a major blow for many artists, venues, industry workers and more. But with the ongoing uncertainty regarding COVID-19 and the government's advice on lockdown, public health has to be placed at the forefront and the festivals have not made this decision lightly.

In a statement, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Shona McCarthy said:

'It's heart-breaking that the Fringe and our sister August festivals will not take place as planned this summer. However, having taken advice and considered all the options, we collectively believe this is the only appropriate response. The safety of participants, audiences, local residents and indeed everyone connected to our festivals will always come first. Our thoughts today are with the doctors, nurses, health and social care professionals on the front line, as well as all those affected by this dreadful pandemic. Our sympathies too are with the thousands of artists and participants directly affected by today's decision – we will do everything we can to support you over the coming months.'

Fergus Linehan, Festival Director of the Edinburgh International Festival has echoed this in his statement:

'We are hugely disappointed to announce this cancellation but given the current outlook we believe it is the correct decision. We recognise that Edinburgh's festivals play a very important role in the cultural, social and economic lives of our city and country, and this decision has not been taken lightly. Our thoughts are with all the country's key workers and we hope that we can celebrate your heroic efforts when this awful pandemic has passed.

'The Edinburgh International Festival was born out of adversity – an urgent need to reconnect and rebuild. The current crisis presents all at the Festival with a similar sense of urgency. Work begins straight away on a 2021 Festival season that will boost both our spirits and our economy.'

While the five festivals will not be able to provide a stage in the same way, there have been comments and suggestions about working with artists and creatives from Edinburgh and across the world to find new ways of uniting people. There is no confirmation on what this might look like but as a collective, it is hoped that plans and ideas will come together within the next few months.

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