Julia Amour

Director, Festivals Edinburgh

Guest blogger for FCDO Editorial

Part of FCDO Outreach

29th November 2016 London, UK

Edinburgh: 70 years of innovation across our festivals

“In 1947 in Edinburgh a unique idea was born. The Edinburgh Festivals, led by the Edinburgh International Festival, began as an initiative for humanity, at a time when inhumanity had done its worst through the extended global conflict of WWII. A beacon of enlightenment and creativity was lit with the birth of the world’s leading festival city, based on a profound belief in the power of culture to build international trust and understanding. The same year also saw the invention of the concept of the Fringe Festival – when eight theatre companies decided to stage their work independently – and the launch of the International Film Festival, now the world’s longest continually-running film festival.

From these beginnings, Edinburgh has now grown into a year-round festival city with twelve major festivals attracting attendances of 4.5 million each year from around the world: attendances on a par with the FIFA World Cup and second only to the Olympic Games. Scotland’s capital has become an unparalleled platform for cultural excellence and international exchange. As well as attracting more foreign visitors than any UK city outside London, the city is a magnet for creatives, scientists and international students.

2017 will be a very special season as we work with all the communities of the city and beyond to mark 70 years of innovation across our festivals. Along with celebrating landmark talents and performances, festivals will invite audiences to share their own memories to create a digital mosaic of amazing moments. Our plans include engaging with over 200 international fringe festivals inspired by Edinburgh to join the celebrations around the world, and creating a gathering of clans at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo to recognise the heritage, colour and diversity of Scotland’s global family.

Even more importantly, we are determined to use this anniversary to ensure that Edinburgh’s Festivals play a lead role in shaping the future and inspiring new generations. The foundation of the festivals in 1947 had a particular historic context, and today we unite in the spirit of reconciliation, tolerance and friendship in the face of inequality and division.  In response, Edinburgh is a place where audiences, artists and thinkers can share fresh visions, and where those who can imagine and devise shared human futures meet with the people who can realise them. We invite the world to join us in Edinburgh in 2017, to put people and culture centre stage in our fragile human enterprise.”


Julia Amour joined Festivals Edinburgh as Director in December 2015, following 20 years of experience across the Scottish and UK culture, education and international trade and investment sectors. The organisation leads on the joint strategic vision of Edinburgh’s 12 major festivals, seeking to sustain the city’s pre-eminence as the world’s leading festival destination. Prior to taking up this post, Julia worked for the British Council in Scotland and across the UK, becoming the British Council’s Acting Regional Director for the UK in 2014.

2 comments on “Edinburgh: 70 years of innovation across our festivals

  1. Nice presentation of a rich culture. India is country that host so many festivals throughout the year with full of colors and joy. I hope people will enjoy in the same manner like the precious years of celebration in Festivals Edinburgh.

  2. India’s 70th year of Nationhood should be appropriately marked in Scotland at the Festival and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is the place. The Indian Army has shone for centuries now, having come to our country’s aid in two great wars; my own late father was a British officer with the Jat Regiment of the Indian Army. I return to visit the Regiment quite often at their regimental HQ in Bareilly where I was born as independence neared. India is a good friend to the UK and her fine great army should be seen and honoured on this occasion. The Pipe Band of the Jat Regiment played at my christening many many moons ago…still have the programme – the Regiment’s slow march is The Skye Boat Song. Let us hear them in Edinburgh!

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