The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has reported a rise in ticket sales of almost 10 per cent - as it emerged the event its audience had grown by nearly a million in the space of just 10 years.
Organisers revealed that 2,696,884 tickets, nine per cent more than last had been issued ahead of the final round of performances tonight - compared to 1,697,293 a decade ago.
There has been a increase in the Fringe’s overall audience of 224,741 in the space of 12 months and a rise of more than half a million in the last three years alone.
It emerged in June that this year’s Fringe programme would be the biggest in itys history, with 3398 productions across 300 venues in the official guide, a rise of almost two thirds in the space of 10 years.
The number of international countries registered with the event rose to a record 58 this year - up 32 per cent in the space of 12 months despite fears over the impact of the event from the Brexit referendum vote last summer.
The last month has seen both the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe mark their 70th anniversaries.
Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: "This has been a very special year for the Fringe as we celebrated 70 years of defying the norm, 70 years of the greatest melting pot of arts and culture anywhere on the planet, and 70 years of Edinburgh as an internationally renowned festival city.
"The Fringe continues to play an essential role in the worldwide arts community, enabling artists to showcase their work, reach new audiences and make new connections.
“I hope that everyone that has attended a show, watched a street performance, or spent time in one of the hundreds of venues around the city has enjoyed their Fringe experience.
“In the current climate of global uncertainty, we were delighted to see an increase of 29 per cent in the number of countries represented in this year’s Fringe programme.
“We will continue to work to support global engagement and international participation in the Fringe over the coming years.
“As the 2017 Fringe draws to a close, we look forward to another 70 years of championing the world’s largest platform for creative freedom.”
Sir Timothy O’Shea, chair of the Fringe Society, added: “After 70 great years, the 2017 Fringe has been the most spectacular success.
"On behalf of the of the audiences from home and abroad that have enjoyed the Fringe this year, I would like to thank the thousands of participants that have entertained and inspired us.
"The Fringe would not be possible without the courage, creativity and sheer hard work of the festival’s participants, and for that we are very grateful.”
Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “In its 70th anniversary year the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has again attracted artists and audiences from across the world to enjoy a breath-taking array of performance art against the spectacular backdrop of our capital city.”
Assembly Festival, which runs major venues on George Street, The Mound and George Square, said it had sold 24 per more tickets than last year.
Artistic director William Burdett-Coutts said: “This year has been a tremendous success. The 70th year of the Festival and our return to the Assembly Rooms in George Street has resulted in over half a million tickets being issued to Assembly’s programme of over 200 shows.
"Many of our companies have enjoyed sell-out runs, five star reviews, nominations and awards, including Hannah Gadsby who was picked as joint winner at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards for best show.
“I’m delighted to see that the number of international performers and visitors to the city continues to grow year-on-year and we look forward to their valued return in 2018.”
Anthony Alderson, director of the Pleasance, which reported a five per cent rise in ticket sales following an expansion to the EICC this year, said: “The 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has been one of the best festivals I can remember.
“The quality of the work created is unprecedented with three Fringe Firsts and a Pleasance act winning in both Edinburgh Comedy Awards categories in this landmark year.
“Our incredible staff have pulled off an amazing festival and we look forward to sharing another brilliant programme next year.”
Gilded Balloon, which opened a brand new venue at the west end of Rose Street, reported a 13 per cent rise in ticket sales.
Karen and Katy Karen, the mother and daughter double act who run their three venues, said: “Being the smallest of the big four venues, selling over 216,000 tickets has been incredible.
“The addition of our new venue in the New Town has been a successful venture and allowed us to programme some outstanding local talent, including family musicals from Captivate Theatre and the welcome return of Craig Ferguson to the festival after a 20 year absence.”