Almost 3000 artists from 47 nations will take part in this year’s Edinburgh International Festival (EIF), which runs from 9 August to 2 September with many projects running as part of the London 2012 Festival.

The EIF, which launched in 1947 and spawned the much larger Edinburgh Fringe, takes place at venues across the Scottish capital, showcasing theatre, music, dance and opera.

Among the new venues this year is the Royal Highland Centre’s Lowland Hall, which will be converted into a theatrical space housing three productions which "can’t be staged in conventional theatres".

The venue will house Grzegorz Jarzyna’s multi-media version of Macbeth set in the Middle East (2008: Macbeth, 11-18 August), and French director Ariane Mnouchkine returning to the UK after a gap of 20 years with Les Naufragés du Fol Espoir (Aurores) (23-28 August). Christoph Marthaler also makes a rare appearance in the UK with an off the wall adaptation of My Fair Lady entitled Meine faire Dame – ein Sprachlabor (14-19 August).

Other theatre directors making rare appearances in the UK at the Edinburgh International Festival this year include theatre pedagog and theorist Tadashi Suzuki with his version of Electra (King’s Theatre, 11-13 August) and Dmitry Krymov’s new production titled A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It) (King’s Theatre, 24-26 August).

2008: Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It) are joined by the RSC’s The Rape of Lucrece (Royal Lyceum, 22-26 August) performed by Camille O’Sullivan and Feargal Murray in forming the Festival’s contribution to the World Shakespeare Festival.

Elsewhere in the theatre programme, director Silviu Purcărete (Faust) returns with a new production of Gulliver’s Travels (King’s Theatre, 17-20 August) in collaboration with Irish folk and rock musician Shaun Davey. This is one of seven performances and productions which form the Festival’s contribution to the London 2012 Festival, the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad.

Scotland on the world’s stage is celebrated in three Festival projects supported through the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund. James MacMillan’s new work Since it was the day of preparation… is given its world premiere by the Hebrides Ensemble and Synergy Vocals as part of a series of early evening concerts in Greyfriars Kirk. Scottish Opera celebrates its 50th anniversary with world premieres including new operas from composers Craig Armstrong, Huw Watkins and Stuart MacRae with a second chance to see James MacMillan’s Clemency (King’s Theatre, 31 August-1 September).

And Matthew Lenton and theatre company Vanishing Point take Alice in Wonderland as inspiration for a “dark and disturbing new work” Wonderland (Royal Lyceum, 29 August-1 September).

This year’s EIF includes artists from countries including Russia, Brazil, Japan, America, Chile, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Australia, India, Ireland, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Israel, Italy, Norway, Spain, South Africa, Venezuela.

Festival director Jonathan Mills announced at last week’s launch that he will step down in 2014, having been in the post since 2006.

Of this year's EIF, he said: “In hard times as well as good the Festival remains one of the world’s most important examples of the power of culture and the arts to transform individual ambitions and lives. We rejoice in our partnership with the Olympic Games. A partnership that exemplifies the greatest sporting and finest cultural celebrations in the world standing shoulder to shoulder in the same country. I urge you all to join us in Scotland’s stunning capital this August.”