Thousands at Edinburgh International Festival launch

Nearly 20,000 attended the launch of the Edinburgh International Festival on Friday. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Nearly 20,000 attended the launch of the Edinburgh International Festival on Friday. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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THOUSANDS of people attended the opening of the Edinburgh International Festival on Friday.

Around 19,500 people were at a free outdoor performance which saw the city’s Usher Hall lit up to celebrate 50 years of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus.

A series of artworks were projected onto the building as John Adams’ choral work Harmonium was played.

The music was recorded by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, conducted by Peter Oundjian.

The Festival runs until Monday August 31 with more than 2,300 artists from 39 nations performing.

Organisers have reported strong ticket sales across the programme.

Fergus Linehan, Edinburgh International Festival director, said: “It is now time for the team at the Edinburgh International Festival to take a back seat and leave audiences in the hands of the thousands of extraordinary artists that are arriving in our city to light up our theatres and concert halls.”

Meanwhile VisitScotland has reported that domestic visitor numbers to Edinburgh increase by two thirds during peak festival season.

On average, 290,000 domestic visitor trips are made to Edinburgh in August compared with 186,000 in July with overnight domestic visitors boosting the economy by £73 million.

International visitors also make an average of 174,000 holiday trips to Edinburgh and the Lothians in August, contributing £63 million in expenditure.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “The Scottish capital comes alive in August which is why, time and time again, visitors flock to the city in their thousands, boosting the local and national economy.

“Tourism is the heartbeat of the Scottish economy, supporting communities and creating jobs, and Edinburgh’s Festivals are a major part of that.”

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