Despite the continuing recession, the Edinburgh Fringe, the world's largest arts festival, has reported record ticket sales this year. Overall, ticket sales reached 1.85 million, an increase of 9% from the previous record (set in 2007) and 21% up on last year’s figures, which were impacted by problems with the ticketing system (See News, 20 Aug 2008).

Organisers noted several factors, such as the increase in people taking money-saving 'staycations', as contributing to the success of this year's Fringe. The impact of the tram system construction work, which has caused disruption on several of Edinburgh's main streets, was not as great as feared.

Many of the bigger venues have been offering cut price tickets and 2-for-1 deals this year, while several shows set their maximum ticket price at £5. The number of shows participating in the Free Fringe, which won special recognition at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards (See News, 29 Aug 2009), jumped from 350 to 465. The largely fine weather also helped to give street performers an increased audience share.

Kath Mainland, who took over as chief executive of the Fringe Society following Jon Morgan's departure in the wake of last year's ticket fiasco (See News, 28 Aug 2009), said: “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 ... There are many reasons why you would choose to bring a show to the Fringe, but this year it seems as though the process of making art is as important as ever.”

- by Anna Maysey


For full coverage of Edinburgh 2009 - including reviews, interviews blogs, news, features & video – go to Whatsonstage.com/Edinburgh2009