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EDINBURGH (Reuters Life!) - The Edinburgh Fringe Festival reported ticket sales of almost two million during the three-week run of the world's biggest annual artistic gathering of seasoned performers and complete newcomers in the fields of comedy, dance, theater and song.
An estimated 21,148 performers took to the stage at 259 venues around the Scottish capital in an extravaganza that over the years has produced some of Britain's top stars of theater, film and television, and set generations of comedians on the road to fame.
The Fringe and the Edinburgh International Book Festival closed their doors on Monday night, while the up-market International Festival winds up next Sunday night with its traditional fireworks display exploding from the soaring ramparts of the castle towering over the city center.
The Fringe has become an annual must for agents and impresarios from around the world seeking new talent and shows.
"Audiences have come to know the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as the place to see every kind of art; from the most imaginative children's theater to topical and incisive comedy and theater which challenges audiences to discuss and re-consider their world," Fringe Society Chief Executive Kath Mainland said.
The Edinburgh International Book Festival also closed its doors on Monday night with the announcement of the formation of a Word Alliance network including four other book festivals ranging from China to Canada.
A meeting in the Scottish capital included directors from the Edinburgh Book Festival, the Bookworm International Literary Festival in Beijing, the International Literature Festival in Berlin, the Melbourne Writers Festival in Australia and the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.
Edinburgh Book Festival director Nick Barley said the aim was ultimately to include Africa, India, the United States and South America. "This new cooperation project will be an important tool in connecting the world's literatures and will have a lasting effect on the relations of both our authors and audiences," Ulrich Schrieber, director of the Berlin festival said.
The Fringe estimated that about 1,956,000 tickets had been sold for a record 40,254 performances of 2,453 shows, with participants from 50 countries.
Edinburgh has been bursting at the seams this season, with streets thronged by visitors undeterred by the impact of global economic woes.
The Fringe estimates that the August festivals generate around 75 million pounds ($115.5 million) annually for the Edinburgh economy.
The International Festival and the Fringe first opened their doors in 1947 as an antidote to the gloom and austerity of the post World War Two period.
Editing by Paul Casciato