AlMOST 300,000 people visited Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms in its first full year of operation since a £10 million makeover.
Edinburgh City Council, which runs the Georgian landmark, said 80 new jobs had been created through the restoration of the building, a major Fringe venue.
About a third of the visitors who flocked to the venue – which reopened in July 2012 – in the first 12 months went to Festival shows last summer.
There was an increase of almost 50 per cent in the number of visitors to the venue between the opening and Christmas compared to the equivalent period in 2010, just before the restoration work got underway.
The refurbishment, in which a rarely-used part of the building became Jamie’s Italian restaurant, was aimed at making more use of the building throughout the year. Venue managers say they now have bookings confirmed as far ahead as 2017.
The plans were fiercely opposed by the previous operator of Fringe shows, Assembly Theatre, founded by William Burdett-Coutts, who then lost the contract to use the venue during August to a rival promoter, Tommy Sheppard, founder of the Stand Comedy Club.
Last year, Mr Sheppard persuaded the Council to close off the middle section of George Street to make way for another venue and an “al fresco” bar. The experiment has been extended this month to allow neighbouring bars and restaurants to spill out into new temporary areas.
Ticket sales at the Assembly Rooms and the Famous Spiegeltent are said to be up to 30 per cent ahead of last year, when the first ten days of the Fringe clashed with the London Olympics. General manager Shona Clelland said: “We have had a terrific first year with the Assembly Rooms back in business with a bang. The positive feedback has been overwhelming, repeat business is healthy and we have great events lined up as far ahead as 2017.”