Edinburgh Fringe gets off to spectacular start

It could only be the Fringe. Picture: Jon Savage

It could only be the Fringe. Picture: Jon Savage

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This year’s festival season got off to a spectacular start with the city’s trademark variety of street shows and big-name 
performances.

The eclectic festivities were kick-started by a opening night that attracted crowds of almost 20,000 to Lothian Road.

The Harmonium Project, a free outdoor performance that saw the exterior of the Usher Hall transformed by music and lights, launched the Edinburgh International Festival and marked 50 years of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus.

Other highlights of the first weekend included the biggest marionette circus in the world, by Klinika Lalek, at the St Stephen’s Centre.

Meanwhile, the figurehead of the Fringe’s biggest comedy award has warned that BBC cutbacks are threatening to have a major impact on the industry in the UK.

Nica Burns said stand-ups could be unable to progress their shows after success at the Fringe due to a dwindling number of opportunities for slots on TV.

Ms Burns, director of the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards, singled out the controversial decision to axe BBC3, which was a crucial breakthrough for shows like Little Britain and Gavin & Stacey.

“The real concern for me is how stand-up comics performing at the Fringe are going to take the next step,” she added.

VisitScotland said that domestic and international visitors to the festival would boost the economy by a combined £163 million.

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com