Fringe festival in record-breaking ticket sales

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The Independent Culture

The world's largest arts festival broke all previous records by selling more than 1.8 million tickets this year, organisers said today.

The 63rd Edinburgh Festival Fringe came to an end yesterday with a 21% rise in ticket sales compared to 2008.

This year's Fringe was the first with new chief executive Kath Mainland at the helm.

She said: "As this year's Fringe draws to a close we can look back on a month of exceptional ticket sales and one of the best festivals in my 20 years in and around Edinburgh.

"Even in tough economic conditions festivals chime with people in a way few other events manage to.

"Over the past three-and-a-half weeks I have seen some amazing work, sometimes perfectly trivial and enormously entertaining, sometimes incredibly challenging and often hugely moving.

"I have been blown away by the creative energy, artistic vision and drive of the people taking part, from performers and directors, to venue producers and promoters."

Hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the globe descended on the Scottish capital during August, despite the economic situation.

A record number of shows, including performances by big-name stars such as Denise van Outen and Julian Clary, were staged at this year's Fringe.

A total of 1,859,235 tickets were sold - 9% more than the previous record set in 2007.

Organisers said the growth of poetry, the spoken word, puppetry and one-person shows were some of the most "striking facets" of the 2009 programme.

An estimated 18,901 performers took to the stage this year, in 34,265 performances of 2,098 shows originating in 60 countries.

Comedy made up 35% of the programme, followed by theatre with 28% and music at 16%.

Musicals and opera, dance and physical theatre, children's shows and other events and exhibitions made up the rest of the programme.

The Stand Comedy Club yesterday announced it also had record-breaking Fringe sales this year.

Venue bosses said they sold 43,388 tickets - up from 35,874 in 2008.

Club director Tommy Sheppard said he was delighted with the results.

"It's been a record-breaking year, despite the fact we've had to operate behind an iron curtain imposed by the city's tram builders.

"This is a vindication of our strategy of keeping prices down and quality high."