Edinburgh Fringe ticket sales down 1%

image captionThe Olympics are thought to have had an effect on Edinburgh Fringe ticket sales

Ticket sales for the Edinburgh Fringe are down by about 1%.

It is thought the London Olympics - which clashed with the first nine days of the Fringe - was a major factor in the fall in sales.

The Fringe remains the world's largest arts festival, with 2,695 shows performed in 279 venues.

Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said it was "in fantastic health", with more than 1.8 million tickets sold.

She said there were also more than 800 free shows at which attendance could not be measured.

However, it is only the second time in more than a decade that ticket sales have fallen from the previous year.

Sales fell in 2008 due to the disastrous implementation of a new ticketing system.

Ms Mainland said: "The Fringe has shown its resilience in responding so positively to the unique challenges of 2012."

Tommy Shepherd, who runs the newly-refurbished Assembly Rooms venue, said ticket sales showed a 20% increase towards the end of the festival, which he put down to the "Olympic effect".

He said his venue sold 98,836 of the 151,000 available tickets being issued, equating to a 66% capacity.

Top sellers included Stewart Lee and La Clique Royale, which sold out for 20 days in a row.

Meanwhile, the Edinburgh International Book Festival had about 225,000 visits - the most in its history.

Ticket sales were up 3% on 2011 and sales of books held steady.

Festival director Nick Barley said: "I think it's important to look beyond the statistics and acknowledge the overall impact of the book festival, and indeed all the festivals."