This year, there are no less than 2,453 shows at the fringe. That's over 350 more shows more than last year and over 400 more than in 2007. Now assuming you had the time and inclination to watch every single show at the fringe, it would take you just over three months to get through them all. That's assuming that each show lasts an hour (although many are longer); that you'll watch a different show every hour, every day, every week with no breaks to eat or sleep; and that you can instantly transport yourself to any of the 259 venues. Let's imagine you began this grueling schedule on 1 August. If you stuck to the above timetable, you would finish watching your last show on 10 November. You'd miss Halloween. You'd stink (no time to shower) and have nothing approaching the semblance of a social life any more. With the average ticket price costing around £12, you'd also be £27,000 out of pocket (and I've excluded the 550 free shows on offer this year from that figure). You'd be broke, unshaven, and probably have a very sore bottom from all that sitting. On the plus side, you'd know how to teleport yourself so it's all bad news.
If you were insane enough to watch every performance at the fringe, it would take you a whopping four and a half years to sit through them all. By then, the next world cup would have come and gone, as would the London Olympics.
This year's festival runs from 6-30 August. During that period, an estimated 21,148 performers will live in the city. That's 2000 more than last year. Like I said this is an event that is growing and growing at an incredible rate. Just to put that in perspective, that amount would just about fill the 02 Arena in London. If every performer had to lie down head to toe, the line would stretch over twenty miles and that's if you round off everyone's height to just 5 feet, which, plainly, most people aren't.
Just by way of comparison, the Montreal fringe festival which has been running for 20 years features just 1300 shows and 9000 performances. Not even close to Edinburgh stats, but then again the fact that Montreal is full of French Canadians can't help matters.
Why am I mentioning all this? Because today I had this year's first encounter with people giving out flyers. In the space of a half hour, I believe I ended up holding a flyer for every one of the 2,453 shows at this year's festival. I'd love to see many of them, but if I'm perfectly honest, I think I'd rather spend the time trying to learn how to teleport myself.