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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK
Edinburgh Festival 'busiest ever'
Tiny Dynamite
Tiny Dynamite has been highly regarded by critics
The Edinburgh Festival has had a triumphant year, with more than one million visitors expected by the end of August - the highest number ever.

Theatre in particular has seen a renaissance, eclipsing the once-dominant comedy scene for excitement and box office returns.

Doris Lessing
Lessing hit the headlines after a festival speech
But ticket sales have increased across the board with more people flocking to see little-known productions, classical music and foreign films.

Even street performers say they have enjoyed record takings, despite the wet weather in the city.

'Wonderful concept'

Organisers say that the festival's opening two-for-one ticket offer, which was backed by the Scottish Arts Council, gave people an incentive to sample the diversity of the world-renowned festival.

"This offer was a wonderful concept that was really designed to give people in the Edinburgh area a push and encourage them to go along to see shows, including those they might normally dismiss," said Charlotte di Corpo, communications manager at the Festival Fringe.

But the festival is also perceived to have been an artistic success.

Rave notices

Writing in the Guardian newspaper, Fiachra Gibbons said that the revival of the festival had been driven "by a spectacular renaissance in theatre".

Street musicians
Street musicians have had a good year
Plays that have attracted rave notices include Abi Morgan's Tiny Dynamite and Gregory Burke's Gagarin's Way, which is soon to transfer to the Royal National Theatre.

The International Book Festival in the city's Charlotte Street has also had a good year, attracting big name authors, such as Gore Vidal, Joanne Harris and Melvyn Bragg, to speak to capacity crowds.

Author Doris Lessing made the news by using a festival talk to criticise contemporary feminism.

Film Festival organisers are also using personal appearances to raise interest in screenings - including stars such as Kate Winslet, Dougray Scott and Sean Penn.

Organisers said that film ticket sales were four days ahead of sales compared with the same time last year.

"This has been a very successful year for us, with many more people buying tickets well in advance," said a spokeswoman for the film festival.

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