THE Edinburgh Festival Fringe has smashed the two million ticket sales barrier for the first time - after organisers revealed a 12 per cent increase at the box office.
The surge has been announced despite fears over the impact of prolonged bad weather since the start of the Fringe and its opening weekend clashing with the Commonwealth Games.
The increase in tickets distributed by the festival matches a surge in the number of shows in the official programme, which was 11 per cent bigger this year.
The Fringe said the final tally of 2,183,591 tickets - compared to 1,943,493 notched up last year - reflected the event’s “continuing popularity and cultural significance.”
Chief executive Kath Mainland said: “Once again audiences from Edinburgh, Scotland, the UK and across the globe have been exposed to a completely fantastic cultural experience.
“Over the last 25 days performers, writers and artists have given their all on stages across Edinburgh in a truly international celebration of culture and entertainment.
“On behalf of everyone who visited and enjoyed this year’s Fringe, I would like to thank all of the immensely talented and courageous participants who brought their work to the Scottish Capital during August – without them this festival would simply not be possible.
“It’s wonderful that after 67 years the Fringe remains the ultimate destination for audiences embrace the arts. In a year that places Scotland on the world stage, the Fringe has once again responded by being the greatest explosion of arts and entertainment on the planet.”
The biggest ever expansion of the Fringe was unveiled when the official programme was launched in June, with more than 3000 shows staged for the first time.
The Fringe, which only broke the 2,000-show barrier seven years ago, featured just 1,541 shows in 2003. By the following year that figure had risen to 1,695.
This year is the last the last the Fringe will run on different dates to the Edinburgh International Festival, after Fergus Linehan, the Irishman who will take over the EIF in October, announced it would be moving forward a week in the calendar, bringing the two events into line for the first time in 17 years.