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Festival record as ticket sales pass £3m mark festival

The Edinburgh International Festival has seen the value of ticket sales pass the £3 million mark for the first time.

LEAVING: Sir Jonathan Mills  is handing over the job of festival director to Irishman Fergus Linehan.
LEAVING: Sir Jonathan Mills is handing over the job of festival director to Irishman Fergus Linehan.

The success of the event has been boosted by well-attended classical music performances and the success of The James Plays, Rona Munro's historical trilogy about James I, James II and James III of Scotland.

With crowd-pleasers such as Sweet Mambo by the late German choreographer Pina Bausch, and "Zulu ballet" Inala, featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo, also helping fill the coffers, the festival took £3.15m as audience numbers hit an estimated 415,000.

The organisers say 2014 has been an "outstanding" year, and the figures come a week after Edinburgh Fringe organisers said it had sold more than two million tickets for the first time.

"The true measure of success is the audience's experience and we've received so much great feedback," said Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) director Sir Jonathan Mills. "There has been a fantastic atmosphere at shows across the festival.

"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."

The festival closed last night in traditionally spectacular fashion with the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert over Edinburgh Castle. Around 250,000 people enjoyed four tonnes of fireworks and clear skies in which to view them.

Those who were close enough to the Ross Theatre in Princes Street Gardens may even have heard the music, a performance by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra of Beethoven's 1812 Overture, Wagner's thrilling Ride Of The Valkyries and Debussy's Marche Eccossaise.

Those who were elsewhere in the city may have used the traditional method - a radio glued to the ear - or a more modern innovation, a free app making its debut this year which allowed users to create their own firework display and set it to the 1812 Overture.

The EIF also been making inroads into the world of podcasts and live streaming, as well as continuing its partnership with BBC Radio 3, which broadcast a series of weekday concerts from the Queen's Hall.

"We created over 50 podcasts and films with Sinfini Music, offering people exploring our music programme the richest possible information, which has attracted over 8,000 listens from over 50 countries," Sir Jonathan added. "We also streamed beautiful intimate rehearsal moments with Patricia Kopatchinaskaja, Kronos Quartet, Michael Houstoun, and Collegium Vocal Gent."

The end of the 2014 programme also brings a change of leadership for the festival. After eight years as director, Sir Jonathan is handing over the reins to Irishman Fergus Linehan, formerly Artistic Director of the Sydney Festival, who has a strong theatre background. Sir Jonathan is a noted composer.

This year's EIF featured 2,400 artists from 43 countries and, in the year the UK marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, was themed around issues of war and conflict.

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