Edinburgh Fringe gets underway

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe gets underway today with a record number of shows and soaring ticket sales.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe gets underway today with a record number of shows and soaring ticket sales.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the globe will descend on the Scottish capital over the next few weeks despite the economic situation.

The Fringe, which runs until August 31, sprang up alongside the International Festival in the 1940s.

A record number of shows, including performances by big-name stars such as Denise van Outen, Julian Clary and Alistair McGowan, will be staged this year.

The programme for the world’s biggest arts festival features 2,098 shows from 60 different countries, brought to the stage by 18,901 performers.

Organisers said they were heartened that so many performers had chosen to come to Edinburgh during these recession-hit times, saying all the signs were that it was set to be a “great” Fringe year.

And they said they were confident a “robust” ticket-issuing system was in place this year to avoid a repeat of the box office problems which hit the festival last summer.

The BBC reported that advance ticket sales for this year’s Edinburgh Fringe were up more than 20% on 2007 at 395,000.

Last year’s ticketing problems mean the 2008 statistics are unreliable.

Steve Cardownie, of Edinburgh City Council, told BBC Scotland: “Year on year people predict the Fringe has peaked, but this is the evidence that it’s not the case.

“And given the past problems with the ticket system last year, to have bounced back in such a fashion lays testament to the resilience to what is the world’s biggest arts extravaganza.

“Everyone keeps saying the Fringe will go in a downward spiral so this trend is fantastic news for the city.”

The Fringe Festival started in the humble setting of a disused pub above the city’s Royal Mile, but has mushroomed into a major date in the arts calendar.

It provides an alternative to the more high-brow offerings of the International Festival.

Most of the acts are comedy, around a third are theatre and musicals, while opera and dance also make up a sizeable proportion.

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