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Record year as 2 million Fringe tickets are sold

The world's biggest arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, has this year grown even bigger, selling 2 million tickets for the first time, a rise of 12 per cent.

PACKING UP: A street performer carries off all his props as the Fringe draws to a close. Picture: Gordon Terris
PACKING UP: A street performer carries off all his props as the Fringe draws to a close. Picture: Gordon Terris

In a year when the Fringe could have suffered from a slow economy, poor summer weather, and the early competition of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, it has announced it issued 2,183, 591 tickets for nearly 300 venues across the city.

Several venues registered record years, with the Summerhall venue notably selling 22 per cent more tickets than in 2013.

Last year the festival registered 1,943,493 ticket sales at this time, a figure that usually increases when sales from the final shows are added.

The Fringe overall featured 49,497 performances of 3,193 shows in 299 venues.

The festival was marked by controversy this year, as one show, The City, by Incubator Theatre of Israel, at the Underbelly venue, was forced to close after protests against Israel's actions in Gaza.

Last week the Fringe was warned that in future other shows could suffer the same fate if the Fringe Society, which organises the annual festival, and other authorities, notably the police, do not learn lessons from this year's protests and the failure to find a suitable alternative venue to allow the show to continue.

Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Fringe Society, said: "Once again audiences from Edinburgh, Scotland, the UK and across the globe have been exposed to a completely fantastic cultural experience.

"Over the last 25 days performers, writers and artists have given their all on stages across Edinburgh in a truly international celebration of culture and entertainment.

"On behalf of everyone who visited and enjoyed this year's Fringe, I would like to thank all of the immensely talented and courageous participants who brought their work to the Scottish capital during August - without them this festival would simply not be possible."

She added: "It's wonderful that, after 67 years, the Fringe remains the ultimate destination for audiences to embrace the arts.

"With over 2,183,591 tickets issued and many thousands seeing over 706 free shows it seems there is still a huge cultural appetite amongst audiences in Edinburgh and much further afield. In a year that places Scotland on the world stage, the Fringe has once again responded by being the greatest explosion of arts and entertainment on the planet."

This year's festival saw new ticket collection points at the Institut Francais d'Ecosse, in the west end of the city, and the Domestic Arrivals Hall at Edinburgh Airport - as well as a temporary ticket office at Glasgow's Queen Street train station.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society hosted the second World Fringe Congress as part of the Culture 2014 Programme, which ran in parallel with Glasgow's Commonwealth Games.

This year's congress was attended by 56 delegates from 38 'Fringes' from around the world.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival also repeated its success of last year, with 225,000 visits to its Charlotte Square base, although it would not release specific ticket sales figures.

In a statement it said "ticket sales matched last year's record breaking figures (which were up 6% on the previous year) and book sales also equalled last year's record high."

Event director Nick Barley said: "This has been a breath­takingly vibrant year for the Book Festival. The atmosphere has ranged from exuberant to deeply thoughtful, with a real sense that Scotland is on the cusp of an epoch-defining decision."

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