A summer of success for Edinburgh's five August Festivals
Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Festival City in summer 2017, record ticket sales and huge audience numbers have demonstrated the enduring appeal of Edinburgh's Festivals.
These successes were shared between all five of the August Festivals, with Edinburgh Art Festival, the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Edinburgh International Book Festival each enjoying an excellent summer.
Edinburgh Art Festival
It was a great year for Edinburgh Art Festival, with attendance up across the whole programme, from more than 30 Partner Exhibitions to 17 pop-up shows.
The festival featured an extensive range of blockbuster exhibitions and critically-acclaimed work from Scottish and internationally renowned artists. Highlights of the Festival included Beyond Caravaggio, Douglas Gordon, and Graham Fagen at National Galleries of Scotland, Jac Leirner at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Pablo Bronstein at Jupiter Artland, Stephen Sutcliffe at Talbot Rice Gallery and Kate Davis at Stills: Centre for Photography.
This year's Art Festival Commissions Programme presented new publicly sited works by Scottish-based artists Bobby Niven, Zoe Walker & Neil Bromwich, and Toby Paterson as well as New Zealand artist Shannon Te Ao. The programme was well received by visitors both local and international and built on the Festival's track record of encouraging visitors to explore hidden corners of the city.
This year the festival was able to site work in Gladstone Court, Chessels Court, Trinity Apse and, for the first time, in Johnston Terrace Wildlife Garden, which many visitors described as "oasis of calm" in the heart of the festival city.
Edinburgh International Festival
After kicking things off in spectacular style with the Standard Life Opening Event: Bloom, the 70th anniversary of the International Festival proved massively popular, with the Festival setting a new ticket sales record of £4.3 million.
In all, the Festival's estimated attendance was more than 450,000, with audience members from 83 different nations. This internationalism was reflected in the programming too, with more than 2000 artists from 40 different nations giving world-class performances across a wide range of productions.
The Festival programme was as diverse as ever, and paid tribute to its roots with works by Verdi and Mendelssohn which had featured in the original 1947 Festival, as well as the Spirit of '47 programme focused on international collaboration.
The Festival also remained true to its innovative spirit through incredible new work, including world premieres of new plays by Alan Ayckbourn, Zinnie Harris and Vox Motus, and music by contemporary artists such as Anoushka Shankar, Benjamin Clementine, PJ Harvey, and The Magnetic Fields.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Also celebrating 70 years, the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe reported on its final day that an estimated 2.7 million tickets had been issued, a new record, marking a 9% increase on the previous year's figure.
The Fringe put its first shows on sale in January, launched its biggest programme ever in June, and by the end of August had witnessed 53,232 performances of 3398 shows at 300 venues across the city, ranging from comedy clubs and theatres to more unusual locations including a swimming pool, a football stadium, a racecourse and a bathroom.
With its famously open-access programming policy, the Fringe welcomed artists and performers of all kinds for a diverse and varied line-up including music, comedy, theatre, cabaret and variety, exhibitions, dance, physical theatre, circus, musicals, opera, spoken work and children's shows.
There was also international diversity, with the number of countries represented at the Fringe increasing by a remarkable 29%, as the world came to Edinburgh.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Having sold out for every performance in its previous 18 years, the Tattoo had one obvious target in 2017, and it was a target it achieved in style, as 18 years became 19-in-a-row and an audience of 220,000 people enjoyed the fantastic sights and sounds of the world-famous show.
In keeping with the other festivals, the Tattoo once again displayed its international credentials, attracting performers from France, the United States and India, itself was celebrating the 70th anniversary of the country's independence. There was also the first representation at the Tattoo from Japan, as the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force Central Band performed for the delighted crowds.
The programme also included fiddlers from Shetland, a squad of Vikings, 50 Highland Dancers, over 250 pipers and drummers, 3 Royal Marines bands and representatives from 57 Scottish clans, as part of the Tattoo's 2017 theme, Splash of Tartan.
Edinburgh International Book Festival
In the second half of August, the other festivals were joined by the Book Festival which, during its 17-day run, welcomed a record number of people to Charlotte Square Gardens and the Festival's new expansion in nearby George Street.
And the expansion proved necessary as over 250,000 attendances were recorded, with ticket sales rising by over 4% and on-site book sales up by 5% to more than 63,000 sales.
A wide range of countries were represented at this year's Festival, which saw 1000 authors, illustrators, poets, politicians and performers from 50 countries entertaining and inspiring the record crowds.
In an initiative recognised by a Herald Angel Award, the Book Festival also reached out internationally itself with its Outriders project which saw five young Scottish writers make separate journeys across the Americas with local writers, before reuniting at the Festival to report on their experiences in a series of events.
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