Page last updated at 15:41 GMT, Monday, 4 August 2008 16:41 UK

Record weekend opening for Fringe

Circus Oz
Red Kangaroos will be among this year's Fringe highlights

The Edinburgh Fringe has reported a record opening weekend, despite ticketing problems at the box office.

Organisers have said a number of venues have reported "healthy" opening sales.

Saturday night at Pleasance had 25 sell-out shows, double the number of 2007 while the Underbelly venue has sold 18% more tickets so far this year.

The Assembly Rooms and Gilded Balloon said they had also enjoyed a record weekend. Problems with a new ticketing system had caused concerns for venues.

Despite a bumpy start, which saw the Fringe box office system grind to a halt, and delayed the arrival of thousands of tickets, organisers said ticket sales have been soaring.

Anthony Alderson, Pleasance director, said: "We're delighted with the opening weekend. It's been a fantastic atmosphere, wonderfully busy, let's put the Fringe box office problems behind us and get on with what so far seems to be a fantastic festival."

Charlie Wood, Underbelly director, said: "Despite the rain, the Fringe ticketing problems and the harbingers of doom, this has been a great first weekend."

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Some people have had trouble booking tickets

Preview performances for many of the record 2,088 shows in this year's Edinburgh Fringe festival began at the end of last week.

But the Fringe, which takes place in 247 venues around the city, officially runs from 4 to 25 August.

Fringe director Jon Morgan said: "We are the biggest open-access cross-artform festival in the world, and every year we have such a great variety of shows from all over the world catering for all age ranges and tastes.

"And these shows are popping up in increasingly varied places.

"This year people are performing in all sorts of different areas; under Arthur's seat, on top of Calton Hill, in swimming pools, at the city zoo, and Edinburgh lends itself so well to that.

"There are so many great areas of this city, so many fascinating parts."

Almost 19,000 performers will take to the stage during the Fringe's three week run.

Last year 1.7 million tickets were sold at the Fringe.


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