THE opening night of a major new Fringe circus venue turned to farce after hundreds of ticket-holders were turned away.
Angry festival-goers queued for more than an hour only to be refused entry to the launch of the Big Sexy Circus City.
One of two major new circus arenas introduced for this year’s Festival, it has been created on the site of the former Fountain Brewery, in Fountainbridge.
Promoters were forced to apologise after being bombarded with complaints on social media from people who claimed the free event had been grossly over-subscribed.
The venue, which said numbers had been capped at 800 on the night, blamed “overcrowding” at the site for the problems and admitted people were left waiting for an “inexcusable amount of time”.
However, the producer of the Big Sexy Circus City, Steve Kennedy, later hailed the event a “staggering success” and claimed a surge of bookings was down to ticket codes for the event being posted online.
The problems with the Big Sexy Circus City emerged the day after the opening of another circus venue on the Meadows had to be put back by three days after its roof was unable to be fitted during high winds.
When the Big Sexy Circus City was launched in June it was hailed as an “affordable and accessible alternative new circus zone built from the rubble of the Fountainbridge brewery”.
The venue was still offering people the chance to sign up for the launch just hours beforehand. However, angry scenes unfolded shortly after gates opened when it became clear many of those waiting would be left disappointed.
Stephen Kent said: “Total shambles. Stood in a disorganised queue on a busy road with absolutely no crowd management or word from staff on what was going on. Eventually someone came out and shouted ‘go home’, which I gladly did.”
Bryony Jackson wrote: “We were relatively near to the front – with tickets. Spent an hour before word spread through the queue that no-one was getting in. There are better ways to spend a Tuesday evening.”
However, Mr Kennedy said: “Some groups posted our private booking codes on Facebook and there was a surge of bookings, so we closed the gates to be licence compliant.
“No-one likes getting turned away from a full event but the people who did get in had an absolutely fantastic night. Those who didn’t get in were turned away for safety reasons.”