Ticket sales slip, but Fringe is in ‘fantastic health’

THE Edinburgh Festival Fringe has confirmed ticket sales of 1,857,202 this year – one per cent down on 2011’s record tally. The total is the second highest in the Fringe’s history.

THE Edinburgh Festival Fringe has confirmed ticket sales of 1,857,202 this year – one per cent down on 2011’s record tally. The total is the second highest in the Fringe’s history.

The final day results were the first in four years to show a drop and are widely thought to be down due to the first ten days of the festival clashing with the London Olympics.

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However, ticket sales made a dramatic recovery from the first week when some venues were as much as 25 per cent down on the previous 12 months.

Last year’s Fringe saw a 2.5 per cent increase in ticket sales, despite the absence of the Assembly Rooms due to refurbishment and prolonged bad weather.

Major venues ended up with mixed results this year, with the likes of Underbelly, the Stand, Assembly Theatre and C Venues all down, while Gilded Balloon, Summerhall, the Pleasance and Traverse said they were either unaffected or had improved box office takings.

This year’s tally is believed to have been boosted by the return of both the Assembly Rooms, the longest-running Fringe venue, and the Famous Spiegeltent, to a new site in the middle of George Street.

The Fringe, which sold a record 1,877,119 tickets last year, saw the number of shows jump 6 per cent in this year’s programme, to a record 2695.

Chief executive Kath Mainland said the final box office figures showed that the event was in “fantastic” health.

“The Fringe has shown its resilience in responding so positively to the unique challenges of 2012. This year, more performers and artists have come to the Fringe than ever before, with an estimated 22,457 performers from 47 different countries calling this stunning city home for the past month.”

Pleasance director Anthony Alderson said: “Competing with the Olympics at the start of the festival was always going to be a challenge, but with audience numbers being equal to last year we have proved once again the strength and popularity of the Fringe.

“The success of this year’s Pleasance festival is down to the quality of the work on stage and a testament to the hard work, diligence and determination of all those involved.”

Edinburgh University principal Sir Timothy O’Shea has

been confirmed as the new Fringe chair, replacing Baroness Smith, the widow of late Labour Party leader John Smith,

who had been in the role for 17 years.

Meanwhile, the Edinburgh International Book Festival revealed it had attracted a record number of people to its Charlotte Square site, with a 3 per cent increase on ticket sales compared to last year.

Director Nick Barley said: “We are delighted with the number of visitors that have come this August.

“We invited a stellar line-up of authors, and our audiences have, as always, responded with interest and enthusiasm.”