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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 August, 2004, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Ticket sales up as Fringe closes
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Heavy rain did not prevent a rise in box office takings at the festival
This year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival saw a rise in ticket sales despite taking place during one of the wettest Augusts on record.

A total of 1,251,997 tickets had been sold as the three-week festival ended on Monday, a 5.6% increase on 2003.

Scotland's minister for culture Frank McAveety said it proved the Fringe provided "a diverse and varied programme that the public wants".

The 58th annual festival featured 15,629 performers in 236 venues.

'Battled through'

Fringe director Paul Gudgin said: "In a year when we competed against some poor weather and what became a fantastically popular Olympics, it showed that the Fringe could battle through whatever happened."

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Christian Slater (left) starred in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Mr Gudgin said the stars of this year's festival were a testament to its diversity.

"When we started the festival, the headlines were completely dominated with Hollywood star Christian Slater's appearance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," he said.

"By the end everyone was talking about Perrier Comedy Award winner Will Adamsdale, who is one of the most exciting new talents in the world but was almost unknown at the start of the Fringe."

The greatest proportion of tickets were sold in the first two weeks of the festival, but despite this Mr Gudgin said he would not shorten next year's event.

"The way shows develop and increase in popularity as the Fringe progresses shows that the festival needs all that time," he said.

Will Adamsdale
Will Adamsdale won the festival's coveted Perrier Comedy Award
The number of Fringe tickets sold online doubled this year, and around 44% of sales recorded at the Metro Fringe Box Office were sold via the internet.

A total of 10.7m was taken at the box office during the course of the festival, with a number of Fringe venues reporting sharp increases in ticket sales.

The Stand Comedy Club experienced a rise of over 38% compared to 2003, while Smirnoff Underbelly reported a box office sales increase of 29%.

Underbelly co-director Charlie Wood said: "We've had a fantastic year and really solidified our position as a major venue. We can't wait until 2005."

Last year the Fringe passed the million ticket sales milestone for the first time, selling 1,184,738 tickets.

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