The Edinburgh International Festival (EIF), the Scottish city's original festival event, weighs into the general August melee this weekend with a three-week theatre, opera, dance and classic music programme that features 161 performances of 112 productions, including four world premieres and 20 British premieres. EIF runs this year from Sunday 12 August to 1 September. Its progeny, the Edinburgh Fringe, which has itself been going for five decades now and qualifies on its own as the world's largest arts festival, opened its 2001 event last weekend.

Amongst EIF's theatre highlights is the premiere of Scottish playwright Shan Khan's hard-hitting play Office (pictured), based on the world of drug dealing. Khan won the Verity Bargate Award for new writers for this, his first stage play. Following its run at Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Theatre as part of the festival, Office will transfer to Soho's home venue in London.

Elsewhere, composer John Cage's 1982 radio play, Marcel Duchamp, James Joyce, Erik Satie, An Alphabet, will have its first stage outing and, notably, will feature legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham in an acting role. And Patrick Mason will direct the Royal Lyceum's own company in Tom Murphy's Too Late for Logic, in which a university professor grades his own life.

Several international theatre companies will also be presenting productions at EIF. Vienna Burgtheater makes its UK debut with Chekhov's The Seagull and Thomas Bernhard's Alte Meister; the French Canadian Theatre de Quat'Sous presents film director Francois Girard's first stage play, Novecento; Belgian company De Onderneming mounts two plays adapted from Agota Kristof's novels, The Notebook and The Proof; and Theatre Vidy-Lausanne performs Heiner Goebbels musical spectacular, Hashirigaki.

Meanwhile, in dance, the New York City Ballet returns and Mikhail Baryshnikov presents his postmodern White Oak Dance Project; in opera, there are outings for 21st-century pieces Three Sisters, Parthenogenesis and Ricardo i Elena and a continuation of Wagner's Ring Cycle with a production of Die Walkure; and in music, two Russian orchestras, the St Petersburg Philharmonic and Russian National orchestras, are welcomed as are several young classical artists making their Festival debuts.

In addition to EIF and the Edinburgh Fringe (which continues to 27 August, with 666 companies presenting 1,462 shows from 50 different countries), other festivals that overtake the city this month are the Edinburgh Film Festival, Book Festival, Jazz & Blues Festival, Visual Arts Festival and the Military Tattoo.

- by Terri Paddock