Rebooted Edinburgh Festival Fringe now tops more than 1,000 shows across 146 venues

More than 1,000 shows are now being staged as part of this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe – nearly 850 more than when the first tickets went on sale in July.

More than 300 have been added since the start of the festival, with the number of venues – 146 – doubling over the past few weeks.

On the penultimate weekend of shows, the overall tally of 1,016 shows is now more than a quarter what it was in 2019 – the Fringe's biggest ever year.

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The new Fringe tally mean nearly 1,500 different shows, events and exhibitions will have been staged across the city's five major festivals by the end of this month.

The Ladyboys of Bangkok were among the later additions to the Fringe line-up this month. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The International Festival is staging around 170 events across its nine venues, the visual art festival’s line-up boasts at least 35 shows and exhibitions, and the book festival festival is running more than 250 events from its new home at Edinburgh College of Art.

The film festival, which began on Wednesday, features more than 100 events across four venues in the city.

Although live events were able to return from mid-May, planning for this year’s Edinburgh festivals was dogged by uncertainty over what curbs on events and audiences would still be in place in August.

A controversial two metre social distancing rule for live events, which is said to have prevented the vast majority of cultural venues in Scotland from reopening for months, was not eased until July 19.

Fleabag creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the first ever president of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, stopped by to visit staff during her recent visit to the Scottish capital to see performances.

Many Fringe venues have kept physical distancing rules in place despite the lifting of restrictions three days after the first shows.

More than 3,800 shows were staged across 323 venues during the 2019 Fringe, which attracted an audience of more than three million for the first time.

Registration of Fringe shows did not begin until the start of May and just 170 shows across 30 venues were confirmed when the first tickets went on sale on July 1.

Assembly Festival said it had sold 40,000 tickets so far across its two venues, with more than 140 performances to go.

Street performers were given the green light to return to the Old Town to stage shows this month. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Artistic director William Burdett-Coutts said: “We’ve been overjoyed to see audiences flock back to enjoy shows at our venues at Assembly Roxy and George Square Gardens.

"It was very important for us to fly the flag of the Fringe this year, and it’s been wonderful to see that rewarded with attendance of audiences from Edinburgh, across Scotland and the UK.

“We’re showing no signs of slowing down as we enter the final week of the Fringe. We have six new shows opening from Monday.”

Summerhall said it had sold nearly 6,000 tickets and had more than 10,000 people through its doors so far.

General manager Rowan Campbell said: "We're really pleased that we've been able to provide our audiences, artists and staff with a safe, comfortable venue in which to rediscover the thrill of live performance.”

"It’s been such a difficult year for venues and audiences alike but the enthusiasm for this year’s programme has been really exciting and heart-warming to see."

Karen Koren, Gilded Balloon’s founder and artistic director, said: “Our programme very much smaller than normal however the shows we have at Teviot have been selling out. We have added extra shows where we can.

“The performers are enjoying putting on live work again and the demand have exceeded our expectations.

“Our new venue MultiStory has been a resounding success and all shows are doing well.”

Binky Beaumont, tour director for the Lady Boys of Bangkok, said: “It’s been a very successful Fringe for us so far, even though we’re choosing to keep operating with a reduced capacity.

“The cast and team are overjoyed to have been once again one of the most popular and most visited shows at the Fringe - the public support has been amazing.

"We hope that people do come to Edinburgh and visit all the wonderful productions appearing here in this very different year for the city.”

When this year’s Fringe began on August 6, more than 700 shows were in the official line-up, including 440 in-person events. The current programme features 1,016 shows, including 731 in-person events.

A Fringe Society spokeswoman said: “Once social distancing guidelines were clarified in July, we were preparing for a Fringe of around 20 per cent of 2019’s size.

"It’s been fantastic to see so much positive engagement with the festival. It’s a testament to how important it is to artists and audiences.

"This year has been so tough for artists and the best way to show support is to come along to a show.

"There’s a whole Fringey world of theatre, music, comedy, dance, cabaret, children’s shows and more, and there’s still 10 days to enjoy it.

"If you can’t make it in person this year there’s a wealth of online work available too.”

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