THE Edinburgh International Festival has reported record ticket sales worth more than £3.8 million ahead of tonight’s fireworks finale.
New director Fergus Linehan has revealed the festival’s box office is up 19 per cent on last year’s event, which itself broke all previous records.
An extra £650,000 was generated from this year’s programme, with 82 per cent all tickets snapped up by festival-goers from 78 different countries.
This year’s festival embraced a host of contemporary music acts for the first time, including Franz Ferdinand, Sparks, King Creosote, Chilly Gonzales and Surfjan Stevens.
Juliette Binoche’s appearance in Greek tragedy, Antigone, The Encounter, theatre-maker Simon McBurney’s one-man show about the Amazonian jungle, dance star Sylvie Guillem’s farewell appearance, a new stage adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s epic novel Lanark and a spectacular new version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute among the biggest box office draws.
Ahead of the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert, which is expected to bring an estimated 250,000 people onto the streets of the city, organisers said an extra 25,000 had attended two new free events, The Harmonium Project, which opened the festival, and Fanfare, which saw brass band concerts staged along the banks of the Water of Leith.
Other innovations introduced by Mr Linehan included the transformation of The Hub, the festival’s Royal Mile headquarters, into a late-night cabaret club, and programming longer runs than normal for theatre productions like Lanark, The Encounter and Antigone.
Mr Linehan said: “At the end of three exhilarating weeks, all that remains is for us to thank the hundreds of artists and hundreds of thousands of audience members who continue to make the Edinburgh International Festival one of the wonders of the arts world.
“This alliance of artists, audiences, government agencies, the media, donors and sponsors is unprecedented and all of us at the Festival office are deeply honoured to be given the opportunity to contribute to this remarkable organisation.
“We will continue to seek out artists of the highest calibre and present their work to the widest possible audience.”
Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop added: “The Edinburgh International Festival has delivered music, theatre, dance and culture of the highest quality, including Lanark - a remarkable production that we have been proud to support through the Edinburgh Festivals Expo fund.
“I’ve been impressed how the festival has pushed the boundaries to connect to wider audiences.”
The 2014 event, the swansong for previous director Sir Jonathan Mills after eight years in charge, was the first to see ticket sales income pass £3 million for the first time.