The Edinburgh International Festival (EIF), Festival Fringe and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo all officially start on Friday.
EIF got proceedings off to a start with artistic director Fergus Linehan, MSP Christine Grahame and members of the EIF young people’s award jury unveiling the Anything That Gives Off Light installation at the Scottish Parliament ponds.
The design features 1,000 yellow 1ft figurines placed on plinths in various positions and is the result of a collaborative project between EIF and 1,000 primary school pupils from across Edinburgh.
A group of Scottish-based writers and visual artists teamed up with the schoolchildren to explore their aspirations, with each young person painting a figurine and writing a poem exploring themes of light.
Mr Linehan said it is “crucial” to involve young people in the festival to make sure it carries on in the future.
He added: “It’s going to be important that the people of Edinburgh have a sense of ownership of the festival because they created it and they are the ones that are going to carry it on, so I think it’s absolutely crucial.
“From a financial point of view, the festivals deliver £313 million worth of economic benefit to Edinburgh and Scotland each year.
“They sustain 6,000 jobs each year and so there’s a very practical reason for it.
“I think that they position Edinburgh as one of the major cities of the world and I think that’s very important as it is a city with an extraordinary history and even though it’s a mid-size city, it’s a city which punches above its weight in a sense.”
Holyrood deputy presiding officer Ms Grahame said the project was a good way to involve the people of the capital.
She added: “Sometimes I think Edinburgh people feel that they are a wee bit put upon - that the festival and all these people come here - they are welcome but their streets are crowded, so I think it’s about beginning to engage with the people who live here as well as the many welcome visitors.
“If you were to ask many Edinburgh people, there are many who feel that it goes past them and they don’t get involved in it, and this is involving all the schoolchildren in Edinburgh, which is a good way to involve the people of Edinburgh.”
The installation will be exhibited throughout the festival until August 29.
On Sunday, Edinburgh Castle will provide the backdrop for a spectacular show before an audience of 27,000 people.
The landmark and its rocky foundation will act as a canvas for animated projections charting 350 million years of history.
The ticketed free event, called Deep Time, will be set to a specially-composed soundtrack by Scottish band Mogwai and marks the start of a three-year partnership between the EIF and sponsor Standard Life.