Edinburgh Festival enjoys rapid two year growth

There were almost 3.5 million attendees of the various Edinburgh Festival shows. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

There were almost 3.5 million attendees of the various Edinburgh Festival shows. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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NEW figures have revealed that the number of tickets being sold for Edinburgh Festival events has grown by more than 25 per cent in the space of just two years.

Almost 2.8 million people flocked to shows in Scotland’s capital this summer, compared to 2.2 million in 2012, according to a report for Edinburgh City Council’s culture committee.

And the overall 2014 figure soars to nearly 3.5 million when attendees at free events such as the film festival’s opening air screenings, the jazz festival’s carnival and Mardis Gras, and free visual arts exhibitions are all counted. The overall figure was 3.18 million in 2012.

All events except the Edinburgh Mela - which was forced to close early in 2013 after its site was battered by high winds - have reported increases over the last couple of years, with some like the film festival up by as much as 40 per cent.

There has been a huge increase in ticket sales for some events in the last decade, particularly for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which has seen a ticket sales rise of 63 per cent, and the jazz festival, which has increased its audience an increase of 20 per cent.

However the film festival is lagging way behind the audiences it used to attract when it was staged in August. The event, which is now held over 10 days from the middle of June, has seen its attendance slip by 15 per cent in the last decade, to 46,000.

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The city council ploughs more than £3.25 million into the city’s summer festivals at present, out of an overall culture budget of some £8.6 million, with a further £2.7 million ring-fenced at present for major events like the city’s Christmas and Hogmanay festivities.

Councillors agreed to find an extra £250,000 to boost the festivals to help them capitalise on the extra interested generated in the UK on the back of the staging of the Olympics in London in 2012 and this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Steve Cardownie, festivals and events champion for the council, said: “Edinburgh has been working since 1947 on expanding and bettering our festivals offering, and this longevity is one of the greatest reflections on their success.

The number of people attending Edinburgh’s biggest summer festivals just keeps on rising, with 2.1 million tickets issued this year for Fringe performances alone.

“The Edinburgh International Film Festival was also one of this summer’s biggest hits and the event saw a huge 41 per cent rise in attendance compared to recent years.

“This summer, it was especially encouraging to see a wide range of family activities on offer being enjoyed by local people. This was particularly evident at the Edinburgh Art Festival, which held a number of workshops with nearby primary schools and community groups, and held free craft activities for kids at the City Art Centre. This is something that cannot be done without the support of the council.

“The festivals programme in the city this year really tapped into the excitement and spirit of the Commonwealth Games and this theme could be seen, heard and felt in many of the performances that took place. I hope next year’s offering will rival the success of 2014.”

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