Blaze of glory ends festival season

The Scottish capital's festival season has been brought to a close with a display of hundreds of thousands of fireworks lighting up Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh lights up during the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert, the traditional closing act in the city's busy festival calendar
Edinburgh lights up during the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert, the traditional closing act in the city's busy festival calendar

Crowds turned up at Princes Street Gardens and other vantage points throughout the city for the 45-minute display set to music from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

More than 400,000 fireworks lit up the sky as classics including Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture were performed.

It takes a team of 15 people six days to lay out the four tonnes of fireworks, including the famous waterfall which sees fireworks cascading over the castle's rocks.

The Virgin Money Fireworks Concert is an annual event which provides the finale to the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) and this year marks the end of Sir Jonathan Mills's eight-year tenure as festival director.

EIF orgainsers said ticket sales passed the £3million mark for the first time this year.

Among the programme highlights were stagings of The James Plays by Rona Munro, Inala featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Pina Bausch's Sweet Mambo, Back to Back's Ganesh versus the Third Reich and a concert series at the Usher Hall.

This year's EIF presented more than 2,400 artists from 43 nations. Some 80% of all the available tickets were issued. The overall audience attendance is estimated to stand at over 415,000.

Mr Mills said: ''The true measure of success is the audience's experience and we've received so much great feedback. There has been a fantastic atmosphere at shows across the festival.

''Our audiences from Scotland, the UK and 75 other nations around the world have greeted our artists with huge warmth, with so many of those artists telling me how exciting it is to play to such enthusiastic and knowledgeable audiences, and enjoying their visit to Edinburgh immensely.

''Once again we've been treated to the world's finest artists sharing their creativity and their work, which has ranged from the epic to the intimate, from east to west and everywhere in between.''

Since his first festival in 2007, he has presented programmes with themes ranging from the Scottish Enlightenment to the influence of the cultures of Asia on western artists.

Under his leadership, the EIF has also organised international launch events in more than 35 cities around the world.

He added: ''It has been an incredibly exciting and challenging eight years in the one of the best jobs in the world.

''The audiences, the stakeholders, the artists and the staff have made it such a pleasure.

''I wish Fergus Linehan, my successor, the very best in taking the festival forward into the future.''