The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is now worth more than £200 milion for the first time, according to organisers.
The value of the event is thought to have increased by at least a quarter in the space of eight years as both its programme and audience have swelled in size.
Organisers say the event’s value - which has risen more than £25 million since the last official research was done in 2015 - demonstrates how it has become “an economic powerhouse in its own right.”
The Fringe has also highlighted that more than 600,000 tickets are now sold to people in Edinburgh for shows - representing around a fifth of all admissions. Further ticket sales across Scotland make up another 17 per cent of the official box office takings.
The Fringe is now by far Scotland’s most lucrative regular sporting or cultural event, well ahead of the Open golf tournament, which generated £140 million when it was last staged in St Andrews.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which has sold out for the last two decades, is currently worth aroud £77 million.
Latest figures show that the Fringe is now supporting 2842 jobs in Edinburgh each year, as well as another 3400 across the country. Admissions have leapt up by around 45 per cent since 2010, and by nearly a quarter in the last three years alone, to a record 2.83 million.
The Fringe has also seen the number of shows staged leap up from 2453 to 3548 in the last eight years - a rise of 45 per cent.
Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “In my view, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is one of the greatest artist phenomena of our time.
“Over more than 70 years, the Fringe has grown to become not just the biggest performing arts festival in the world but, much more importantly, the biggest platform for creative freedom expression.
“We attracted 55 different nations in 2018 and the Fringe is a key player in promoting Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK’s international reputation. It fosters and embraces being culturally open, creative, welcoming and confident, which is fundamental to attract people to invest, study, work and visit here. It’s also an economic powerhouse in its own right.
“It continues to push boundaries to create and nurture a cultural eco-system through year-round education and community work in the city to continually develop ways to support and promote access, equality, inclusive and diversity, and champion initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint and continually evolve and innovate.”
More than 900 productions identified themselves as “Scottish” in last year’s programme, which featured more than 56,000 performances - compared to just over 40,000 in 2010.
Ms McCarthy added: “We have resolutely supported and maintained the open access of the event, which means that regardless of art-form, professional status or geographical location, everyone is welcome to participate. While the appeal of the Fringe is the richness of the work that is coming from across the world, it is also very much - and sometimes forget this - an event for the people of Edinburgh and Scotland.”