Edinburgh International Festival sells more than half its tickets in a few days

More than half of the available tickets for this year's Edinburgh International Festival have already been snapped up - after just a few days of ticket sales.

Organisers say one in three productions are already totally sold out, including appearances by stars like Nicola Benedetti, Alan Cumming, Domhnall Gleeson and Damon Albarn.

The festival has revealed it will consider releasing more tickets for performances if current Scottish Government event restrictions are relaxed before August.

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Most shows will go ahead at three pop-up outdoor venues, at Edinburgh Park and Edinburgh Academy, which have a current capacity of 670, and Edinburgh University's Old College Quad, which can currently accommodate 230.

The EIF’s programme will be staged across 10 sites in total, including a free opening weekend fire show at the Royal Botanic Garden and a free dance show in Holyrood Park.

Both the Traverse and the Royal Lyceum will be reopening in August to play host to theatre, while the Festival Theatre will host a major opera production.

More than 170 different music, theatre, dance, opera an spoken word performances are being staged across the city under plans to reboot the EIF, which was forced to go completely online last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However the festival has only been able to put on sale around a quarter of the number of tickets it usually has available due to the likely prospect of social distancing still being in place in Scotland in August. Of the 90 separate shows in the programme, 35 have completely sold out.

Edinburgh University's Old College will become home to a temporary venue for the Edinburgh International Festival this summer.
Edinburgh University's Old College will become home to a temporary venue for the Edinburgh International Festival this summer.

Scottish Opera’s entire run at the Festival Theatre has completely sold out its run at the venue, which will only be able to fill 367 of its 1915 seats.

All performances of Gleeson’s new play Medicine at the Traverse, which have a current capacity of just 46, have also gone, as have all the shows featuring violinist Nicola Benedetti during an official EIF residency.

Other hot-ticket shows include singer-songwriter Karine Polwart, fiddlers Duncan Chisholm and Aidan O’Rourke, indie-rock outfit The Snuts, pianist Steven Osborne and the National Theatre of Scotland play Lament For Sheku Bayoh, which will be staged at the Lyceum.

A spokesman for the festival said: “We have approximately one quarter of the number of tickets on sale this year, compared to normal years.

Violin sensation Nicola Benedetti is one of the main attractions in this year's Edinburgh International Festival. Picture: Simon Fowler

“With 2m distancing we are only able to provide roughly one third of our usual ticket capacities.

“If Scottish Government guidance on social distancing changes, we will consider a release of additional tickets, but safety is our priority.

“In terms of sales, we have sold approximately 50 per cent of our total available capacity, with 35 events sold out within two days of our public on-sale.

“We are still encouraging people to check back in case there are any returned tickets for sold out events.

“There is still plenty of availability, as there are still tickets for 55 events, most of them at our two big venues, Edinburgh Park and Edinburgh Academy.”

Francesca Hegyi, the festival’s executive director, said: “We're really encouraged with the initial interest in the festival's performances.

"It's lovely to see that after all the hard work that the entire festival team has put in to getting us to this point our audiences here in Edinburgh are as excited about the programme as we are.”

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