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Edinburgh Fringe shines through August rain

Performers from "The Gift of the Gorgon" show stand together in a dark alleyway in the Royal Mile to promote their show during the Edinburgh
Performers from "The Gift of the Gorgon" show stand together in a dark alleyway in the Royal Mile to promote their show during the Edinburgh

By Ian MacKenzie

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Heavy rain in August failed to dampen the spirits of performers and audiences as the Edinburgh Fringe recorded a third successive record year for acts and ticket sales.

The Fringe Society said Tuesday 1.88 million tickets were sold for the 2,542 productions involving some 21,000 performers from many parts of the world over the Fringe period from August 5 to 29. Sales were up some 50,000 tickets from 2010.

About a third of the Fringe is devoted to comedy, with theater, cabaret, dance, music and performances for children to catch the eye.

Society chief executive Kath Mainland said the Fringe was a focal point both for performers seeking to make the big time and impresarios and agents out to spot and sign up the stars of the future.

The Scottish capital is the home to the world's largest annual festival of the arts, which include the Fringe, the International Festival with major productions of theater, opera, dance and music from around the world, the International Book Festival, the Royal Edinburgh Military tattoo, jazz and the visual arts.

A survey earlier this year showed Scotland's festivals brought 250 million pounds ($407 million) in revenue to the country annually, with the Fringe alone accounting for 142 million pounds for Edinburgh, whose population doubles during August.

"The Fringe's loyal audiences have this year enjoyed another exciting, exhilarating, challenging and entertaining month in Edinburgh," Mainland said.

The International Festival runs on to Sunday, ending with an explosive display of fireworks soaring and bursting from the ramparts of the castle which dominates the city center.

Executives from each of the Festival associations have said they plan to target London next year to attract visitors from around the world already coming to England for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The International Festival was started in 1947 as an artistic antidote to the hard times following World War Two. Not all the applicants were accepted and so the Fringe was born by performers coming to Edinburgh anyway that same year. ($1 = 0.614 British Pounds)

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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