Edinburgh International Festival will be opened by a huge public sound, music and light show for the third year in a row, organisers have said.

St Andrew Square will be transformed into a magical digital installation as the EIF celebrates its 70th anniversary and Edinburgh’s status as the world’s Festival City.

The free-to-attend events – on Friday 4 and Saturday 5 August – will be called Bloom as a tribute to Sir John Falconer – Lord Provost of Edinburgh and the International Festival’s first Chair – who in the festival’s founding year, 1947, spoke of his ambition to ‘provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit’.

The third in a series of commissions from the International Festival’s Artistic Associates 59 Productions, the Bloom is a an epic public artwork by 59 Director Leo Warner, which brings together large-scale animation and architectural projection mapping, celebrating the cultural reignition sparked by the Festival’s creation.

Featuring a newly-commissioned musical score from award-winning composer Nick Powell, the Standard Life sponsored event will chart the joyful transformation of Edinburgh, from the darkness and division of the post-war years to the colour and vibrancy of today’s Festival City.  Bloom draws upon the architectural beauty of the new town, Edinburgh’s rich cultural heritage and the technological innovation for which the city is renowned.

59 Productions – the company of artists behind the video design of the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games – worked on the first public installation in Edinburgh in 2015, which saw the Usher Hall illuminated by a series of projected images set to a musical score. Last year, Edinburgh Castle and Castle Rock were lit up in a similar display by the company, called Deep Time. 

Fergus Linehan, Edinburgh International Festival Director, said: ‘Since 1947 the International Festival has welcomed the world to Edinburgh, creating an electric atmosphere in this city which has radiated back out across the globe. That energy has transformed Edinburgh and sparked not only the development of the Festival City we know today, but the creation of countless other festivals around the world. We’ll experience that transformative power first-hand in Bloom, as 59 Productions create a digital constellation in the centre of our city that places our story and Edinburgh’s people at its heart.”

Production companies Blue-i Theatre Technology and Mclcreate are also involved in putting on the display.

Leo Warner, Founder of 59 Productions and Director of Bloom, said: ‘Following two wonderful years working with Fergus and his team at the International Festival to create increasingly ambitious and engaging opening events, we faced a challenge in conceiving a new piece befitting the significance of this anniversary year.

“We decided to place audiences inside the event, encompassing them within nearly half a linear kilometre of projection-mapped architecture and bespoke lighting fixtures, and use music, sound and light to tell a story celebrating the 70 year history of the International Festival and the associated Edinburgh festivals, and the immesurable impact that it has had on the cultural world.’

Key funders include Event Scotland and the University of Edinburgh, which have supported the Festival’s Opening Event since its inception in 2015.

Bloom also enjoys support from the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals EXPO Fund. This year the EXPO Fund has made an additional £300,000 available to support the Festivals celebrating 70 years of the Festival City. Edinburgh International Festival is working with Essential Edinburgh to realise the event.