Edinburgh International Festival 2020 cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic
- Deborah Chu
- 1 April 2020
The landmark arts festival will not be taking place for the first time in its history in light of the coronavirus outbreak
The Edinburgh International Festival has announced that its 2020 edition has been cancelled due to the ongoing health crisis around the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival, which prides itself on bringing together the very best in artistic and cultural programming from across the world, was founded in 1947 as a means of bridging the divisions left behind by the ravages of the Second World War.
In the 70-plus years since their inaugural festival, the EIF — along with the other August festivals — has become a major keystone in Edinburgh's social, cultural and economic fabric. Taken together, the city's five summer festivals draw in audiences totalling 4.4 million, and bring together over 25,000 artists from 70 different countries. This difficult decision was made amidst the ongoing uncertainty and major health and safety hazards posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has enforced unprecedented restrictions around travel, as well as self-isolation and social distancing measures across nations throughout the world.
Fergus Linehan, the EIF's Festival Director, says, '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.
As we observe our essential social distancing we can, I hope, look forward to being back together soon: sharing brilliant music, theatre, dance, literature and art from the greatest creative minds of our time. Until then, thank you for all your good wishes and keep safe in the coming months.'