The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012 has come to an end after 42,096 performances of 2,695 shows, making it the largest ever arts festival in the world.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has announced that by Monday afternoon, with hundreds of performances still to take place, an estimated 1,857,202 tickets were issued for shows, events and exhibitions in 279 venues across the city, reflecting the continuing popularity and cultural significance of the Fringe. This is 1% less than the overall number of tickets estimated to have been sold by the same point last year.

The end of the Fringe has also been marked with the news that the next Chair of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society will be Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, the Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh.

Kath M Mainland, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said:

“Over the past 25 days, audiences from Edinburgh, Scotland, the rest of the UK and around the world have been inspired and entertained by world-class performers, writers and artists in the largest celebration of art and culture in the world.

 “I’m delighted to say that the Fringe is in fantastic health, with over 1.8 million tickets issued and many thousands of audiences attending over 814 free events across the city. The Fringe has shown its resilience in responding so positively to the unique challenges of 2012. The loyal and enthusiastic audience has once again been treated to the most amazing cultural experience and has been both entertained and challenged again and again by a programme of spectacular work across all artforms and from all around the world. 

“For performers, the Fringe is one of the most exciting and important ways of developing their careers and showcasing their work.  This year, more performers and artists have come to the Fringe than ever before, with an estimated 22,457 performers from 47 different countries calling this stunning city home for the past month.  I would like to thank them on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people who visited the Fringe this year for showing us their incredible talent and courage by bringing so many extraordinary shows and events to our capital city in this amazing year.”

Kath M Mainland went on to announce that the Board of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has elected Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh as their new Chair to take over from Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill who stood down after 17 years in the role.

“I am delighted to be able to announce that at their meeting earlier today the Board of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society elected Sir Timothy O’Shea as the new Chair of the Society. Sir Timothy has been a long-standing supporter of the Fringe and I am sure that he will be a brilliant leader of the Society and our Board in years to come.”

Speaking about his election, Sir Timothy said:

"The University of Edinburgh has enjoyed a long, proud and happy association with the Festival Fringe and I am delighted to be more involved as the Fringe builds on its huge success and popularity."    

The London 2012 Olympics have made their mark on this year’s Fringe, with many shows taking inspiration from the sporting action taking place this summer.  The Prize used verbatim interviews with Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls to tell the very personal story behind sporting success, while Bitch Boxer explored the very personal moving story of a competitor in the first ever Olympic female boxing competition and Endure: A Run Woman Show had the audience following a lone female runner around the parks of Edinburgh, hearing the story of endurance and motivation.  Elsewhere, the Olympics was the source of many jokes, with Mark Watson’s Edinborolympics pitting some of the comedy circuit’s most famous names against each other in a series of bizarre invented sporting events.

In 2012, there were plenty of new venues for audiences to explore. The revamped Assembly Rooms on George Street returned to the Fringe after a year-long absence, bringing with it a host of comedy, music and theatre, whilst George Street also saw the return of The Famous Spiegeltent in a spectacular new temporary urban garden.  Northern Stage ran their own venue for the first time, bringing their 16 shows under one roof at Northern Stage @ St Stephens.  SpaceUK added new performance spaces at the Symposium Hall on Hill Square to their ever growing list of performance spaces and C Venues opened a brand new complex in the India Buildings on Victoria Street, C NOVA.  Assembly Theatre took charge of Assembly Roxy and the Old College Quad was back in action with a number of large-scale outdoor productions from Poland co-produced by Universal Arts.

Spoken Word made its debut as a category in the 2012 Fringe Programme, featuring 41 shows and a diverse range of performers, including Scottish national makar Liz Lochhead, fringe-favourite Luke Wright and internet sensation Mark Grist.

This year has seen a number of programmed seasons of theatre from around the world.  As well as Northern Stage’s season-in-a-venue, there has been work from South Africa, Poland, Italy, France, Brazil and Russia, showcasing the international nature of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the appetite for audiences to see the very best creative talent from around the world.

The Made in Scotland showcase was once again hugely successful, with 12 companies receiving financial support from the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund to bring their work to the Fringe.  Rob Drummond’s Bullet Catch won aHerald Angeland Joe Douglas’ Educating Ronnie received a Scotsman Fringe First and The Static won the coveted Scottish Arts Club Award.

Elsewhere, Mies Julie won a Scotsman Fringe First, Herald Angel and the coveted Carol Tambor Award whilst the 25th anniversary of the Gilded Balloon’s So You Think You’re Funny? competition for new comics was won by Aisling Bea, only the second ever women to win the prestigious award.  The Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award went to The Two Worlds of Charlie F performed and inspired by injured military service personnel in The Bravo 22 Theatre Company.  The Arches Brick Award was picked up by The Sh*t/La Merda which also won a Scotsman Fringe First. In musical theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s production of Q Brothers’ Othello: The Remix won the Tods Murray Award for Best New Musical Theatre Show and the Best Lyrics award in the Musical Theatre Matters Awards.

The Cabaret section of the programme, now in its second year, was recognised with a new award this year, the Time Out & Soho Theatre Award (TOAST Award) for the best cabaret show on the Fringe.  This year, the award was presented to New York chanteuse Lady Rizo.

Physical and silent comedy had an outstanding year, with the prestigious Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award won by the US based clown Doctor Brown and the Panel Prize awarded to The Boy With Tape on His Face.  Best Newcomer prize went to Norwegian Daniel Simonsen who was just one of a number of international comics making their Fringe debut this year.

There were 814 free shows covering all genres at the Fringe this year.

Once again the world’s greatest street performers came to the High Street and the Mound to entertain the hundreds of thousands of people who come to Edinburgh every August. While the Virgin Money Half Price Hut and the very successful 2-for-1 deals on the first Monday and Tuesday of the Fringe allowed audiences the chance to see some of the very best shows for less.

Audiences have been finding shows in all sorts of different ways this year, thanks to social networks and old fashioned word of mouth. This included an innovative new arrangement with SoundCloud that allowed Fringe participants to upload audio files to the website.

Tickets were also on sale on the west coast for the first time ever, after the Fringe Society set up a box office and ticket collection point in ScotRail’s Queen Street Station.

Notes to editors:

  • In 2012 an estimated 1,857,202 tickets were issued compared to 1,877,119 tickets issued in 2011.  This does not include free non-ticketed events.
  • Fringe 2012 featured 42,096 performances of 2,695 shows in 279 venues
  • Fringe 2011 featured 41,689 performances of 2,542 shows in 258 venues
  • Fringe 2010 featured 40,254 performances of 2,453 shows in 259 venues
  • An estimated 22,457 performers took to the stage in Fringe 2012, compared to 21,192 in 2011 and 21,148 in 2010.

Comprehensive lists of award winners are available at