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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Monday, 6 August, 2001, 06:38 GMT 07:38 UK
Parade opens Edinburgh Festival
Edinburgh festival parade
An inflatable dragon led the official parade
Huge crowds lined the streets to watch a parade marking the official opening of the Edinburgh Festival on Sunday.

Numerous acts, including the entire cast of the city's Military Tattoo, marched the streets.

Edinburgh Festival parade
Ticket sales for the festival are substantially up
This year ticket sales for the celebrated Edinburgh Fringe have reached record levels.

There are also concurrent "official" festivals, including celebrations of jazz, film, television and books.

Acts booked for the official festival include the New York City Ballet, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Baryshnikov and the White Oak Dance Project, and the Vienna Burgtheater.

Cultural links

Ticket sales are up by as much as 70% on last year - which some have attributed to the appeal of an urban event, in the wake of Britain's rural outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Started in 1947 to build cultural links in Europe after the Second World War, the Edinburgh Festival now attracts some of the arts world's biggest names.

And celebrities as diverse as Joan Rivers, Alan Davies, Julian Clary, Clive James, Rich Hall and Nicholas Parsons will be among those appearing at various shows throughout the 175 venues across the city.

The Edinburgh Festival was originally designed to promote high culture.

But now the Fringe festival, famous for incubating comedy and theatrical talent, usually attracts more media coverage.

This year promises to be one of our strongest ever

Paul Gudgin
Fringe director
This year Fringe organisers are promising the usual mix of off-beat comedy, drama, music and visual arts, with more than 600 theatre companies from 49 countries scheduled to perform.

Fringe director Paul Gudgin said: "This year promises to be one of our strongest ever, with some of the best names from around the world."

Controversial comedy

Rarely without controversy, this year the festival's prestigious comedy prize - the Perrier award - has come under attack.

Several leading comedians and actors including Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson have called for the prize to be boycotted over links between the sponsors Perrier and food firm Nestle.

Campaigners are angry at Nestle's sale of powdered baby milk to the developing world - but the company has rejected the criticisms.

The Perrier prize, now in its 20th year is one of the most important prizes in comedy.

The BBC's David Sillito
"There's more people than ever buying tickets"
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