Edinburgh Festivals ticket sales soar

Darth Vader and some pals entertain crowds at the Film Festival. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Darth Vader and some pals entertain crowds at the Film Festival. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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EDINBURGH’S bumper festival season has seen audiences rocket by up to 40 per cent in recent years, new figures reveal.

The spike in attendance has been partly attributed to the spin-off from Glasgow’s ­Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup, with crowds surging for most of the eight summer festivals.

A report into the health of the festival programme praised the artistic strength of the ­latest season and its growing international reach.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival saw its popularity soar, attracting nearly double its 2012 audience, with 58,000 spectators visiting this year’s event – a 41 per cent boost.

Some of this success has been credited to new open-air movie screenings which made their festival debut this year and the Film in the City offshoot hosting in the Grassmarket and St Andrew Square.

It comes as artistic director Chris Fujiwara – who joined the festival in 2011 – stepped down from his post in September with a year remaining on his contract.

The festival – which hosted 11 world premieres and eight international premieres – also attracted Hollywood stars including Elijah Wood.

Among the best performing was the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues festival, which grew by 30 per cent to 61,000 ticket sales and boasted high-profile performers like Van Morrison.

The city report also reveals that the Fringe Festival – which sold a record 2.1 million tickets for nearly 50,000 performances – enjoyed a 17 per cent audience boost while the Art Festival saw visitor ­numbers grow by 16 per cent.

The Edinburgh International and Edinburgh International Book festival saw crowd numbers increase by nine and six per cent respectively. It was revealed earlier this year that ticket sales for the International Festival passed the £3m mark for the first time.

The popular Edinburgh Mela, which saw its headline act cancelled due to high winds in 2013, is the only ­summer festival to experience a drop in crowd numbers in the past two years.

The celebration of music and dance saw numbers fall slightly, by three per cent.

Councillor Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh’s festivals and events champion, welcomed the report describing it as “great news” for the festivals and its fans.

“Edinburgh has been working since 1947 on expanding and bettering our festivals, and this longevity is one of the greatest reflections on their success,” he said. “The number of people attending Edinburgh’s biggest summer ­festivals just keeps on rising, with 2.1 million tickets issued this year for Fringe performances alone.

“The 68th Edinburgh International Film Festival was also one of this summer’s biggest hits, and the event saw a huge 41 per cent rise in attendance compared to recent years.”