Fringe ticket chaos leaves laughter in short supply

Blue skies over Edinburgh's Royal Mile did much to help fill the streets and create a pre-festival buzz yesterday. But the anticipation felt by hundreds of thousands of fans heading for the Fringe Festival, many travelling across the globe to be in Scotland's first city, was beginning to wear thin by mid-afternoon.

The Fringe previews began yesterday, but for a fourth successive day phone and box-office sales had to be cancelled or suspended because of a malfunctioning computer system.

It meant that festival-goers wanting to book to see the usual mixture of comedians in cages, cross-dressing Blue Peter presenters and human slugs in a circus were kept waiting again.

It is the tenth day in a row that sales have been adversely affected in one way or another, scuppering pre-festival publicity and causing resentment among those who have made their annual pilgrimage to the arts, comedy and music bonanza.

Only tickets booked well in advance could be collected yesterday. Dozens of Fringe-goers who were unaware of the computer problems were turned away – to their obvious disgust.

A Fringe spokesman, Duncan Fraser, said that more than 100,000 tickets had been sent by post. "We sell most of our tickets in August so, though it's hard to say how many we'll sell overall, we're not doing too badly," he said.

He added that Fringe staff were continuing to recommend that fans pick up tickets from individual venues rather than going to the central box office.

Ken Reynolds, a 70-year-old Fringe pilgrim from North Queensferry in Fife, had booked more than 30 tickets. "I'm disgusted. I've been coming to the Fringe office for more than 30 years to book my tickets and I've never had any problems," he said. "I had no idea I wouldn't be able to pick up my tickets today. I'll have to spend the afternoon going round individual venues to get what I want."

Karen Koren, artistic director at the Gilded Balloon, one of the best known comedy venues in the city and home of the Late'n'Live show, said her sales were down by around 10 per cent. "We're down a fair bit in terms of sales. Most of our advance ticket sales are through the Fringe office before we get our own box office up and running," she said. "We're hoping things pick up now that we're open for business, and that we can get the message out that people can get tickets here."

John Barrow, a promoter at the Acoustic Music Centre, said: "Ticket sales are definitely not what they should be. Not everyone has a computer and we really rely on the Fringe office. I just can't understand why it has taken as long as it has for the Fringe to sort out its box office. If it isn't up and running soon we'll be in big trouble."

Last year a total of 1.7 million tickets were sold over the course of the festival, which is the biggest of its kind anywhere in the world.

On Sunday the Edinburgh Festival Fringe begins and five days later it will be the turn of the Edinburgh International Festival.

The comedy festival, which began yesterday, has more than 250 shows across 55 different stages, and is being billed this year as the largest comedy festival ever produced.

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen