EDINBURGH Festival Fringe tickets have gone on sale earlier than ever before as the event gears up to go head-to-head with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year.
Promoters have put thousands of tickets on sale for shows at one of the biggest venues and are even offering an “early bird” discount to help drum up sales.
The Fringe is facing direct competition from the Games for at least five days. Officials insist there is growing demand from show producers and audiences for early ticket sales, but could not recall anything being available before Christmas previously.
The move to release tickets to two shows at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre comes 18 months after the Fringe broke with tradition and started selling tickets on its website before its programme launch at the end of May.
The pilot project, introduced to help the Fringe compete with the London Olympics, was so successful that dozens of shows for the 2013 festival went on sale in January of this year.
Marlene Zwickler, promoter of the shows by Jimeoin and Daniel Sloss, has taken a full page advert in the programme for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations. She said: “The old days of everyone waiting until the Fringe programme came out to put their shows on sale have gone for ever. The dam burst when some people starting putting tickets on sale in March.
“A lot of people make their decisions on what tickets to buy for events well in advance these days, their habits have changed. You only have to look at the touring schedules of some comedians – many of them have tickets on sale for shows in 2015.
“With a venue like the EICC that is open all year round and is set up to sell tickets, I don’t see how it could do any harm. It’s a bit of an experiment putting them on sale before Christmas, but there’s an early bird discount so people can get a good deal by booking now.”
Professor Joe Goldblatt, an international events expert at Queen Margaret University, said: “There’s been a growing trend across the whole entertainment industry to put tickets on sale earlier and earlier.
“It’s about generating cash flow, raising awareness of shows, persuading people to buy early and it also allows you to add extra shows based on early demand. A show like War Horse, which is coming to Edinburgh in January, has already been selling tickets for more than a year.”
He added: “I don’t actually see too much competition between the Fringe and Commonwealth Games, which has actually sold most of its tickets already.”
A spokesman for the Fringe said: “We’ve put tickets on sale early for the last two years on our website. It is definitely a growing trend and we’ll be putting the first shows for next year on our website early in the new year.”