THE organisers of the Edinburgh International Festival have declared it a record year for the event following an 11% rise in ticket sales.

As the curtain came down on another year for the Festival, it was revealed £2.83 million was taken at the box office, a 9% increase on 2011.

More than 3000 artists from more than 47 nations, and audiences from more than 70 nations, gathered at the event.

Organisers also said the Festival welcomed more diverse audiences this year with an 11% rise in the take-up of discounts for people with disabilities.

They said excitement around performances was reflected with shows being awarded five-star reviews including NVA's Speed of Light, London Symphony Orchestra, Daniil Trifonov, Ballet Preljocaj and Waiting for Orestes: Electra, among others.

The Festival has benefited from being bigger this year, with three large shows at the Ingliston Royal Highland Centre, as well as the many attendees for the Speed of Light event on Arthur's Seat.

Jonathan Mills, artistic director of the Festival, said: "We had a larger programme this year, but I don't judge the programme by its size; I judge it by its contents and the journey it invites people to go on.

"I think we have been very ambitious, when everyone around is saying 'be unambitious, batten down the hatches' [because of the Olympics], and that has stood us in good stead," he said.

"Audiences have very much enjoyed our little art centre at Ingliston where we have had three very different but beguiling artistic experiences that have proven to be challenging but popular."

Mr Mills, whose final Festival will be 2014, said younger people had been attracted to the EIF by the dance and theatre offerings.

The Festival said its £8 tickets for under 26s had proven popular and were often mentioned on social media channels. However, Mr Mills said: "Too much is made of attracting a young audience. I would like to think more people are coming that are experiencing it for the first time, whether they are young or old, based in Glasgow, Edinburgh, London or Timbuktu."

Last week the Fringe closed, with the number of tickets issued down 1% on 2011 following challenges from the Olympics, a bad economy and variable weather. But that 1% drop may hide a greater slackening in enthusiasm for the Fringe in reality: this year's Fringe had more venues than ever, and more shows than ever, but it did not experience a rise in the number of tickets issued.

This year's Fringe had 2695 shows in 279 venues, compared to 2542 shows in 258 venues in 2011.

Two major venues – the revamped Assembly Rooms and the Famous Spiegeltent, which are reported to have tallied nearly 99,000 tickets this year – were not in operation in 2011, and there was a greater presence from the BBC, which also issues tickets.

Mr Mills said: "What I would say is that I would be wary of comparing festivals. I think we set a trap for ourselves [if we read] too much into a specific statistic in a specific year.

"The nature of life is cyclical. There will be years that are better than others, there are years that are more optimistic than pessimistic, there will be years that are more lucrative than not, there will be years where more people want to go and celebrate than others, and all of these would have a bearing."

Mr Mills urged people to compare the Edinburgh festivals to "similar international events of a similar kind, because if you still do that, there really is no comparison in statistical terms."

Organisers of the Edinburgh International Book Festival had an "exceptionally successful" August, with 225,000 visits to Charlotte Square, the most in its history. Ticket sales were up 3% on last year, with book sales at its book shop "steady".