EDINBURGH’S festivals attracted bumper crowds in their 70th year, with both the International Festival and the Fringe claiming record ticket sales.

The International Festival generated total sales of £4.3 million, a new box-office record.

Festival director Fergus Linehan said: “As the curtain falls on the 70th anniversary International Festival we are struck by the generosity, enthusiasm and endless curiosity of festival-goers from Edinburgh and all over the world. We are hugely grateful to them and the thousands of artists who have lit up our stages and streets over the past month”.

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By Monday afternoon, the Fringe was estimating that 2,696,884 tickets had been issued for shows, compared to 2,475,143 tickets last year.

That figure will not account for all of the 53,232 performances of 3,398 shows in the 300 venues across Edinburgh, as audiences for many of the free shows just turn up.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Fringe Society that facilitates the open-access festival, said:“This has been a very special year for the Fringe as we celebrated 70 years of defying the norm, 70 years of the greatest melting pot of arts and culture anywhere on the planet, and 70 years of Edinburgh as an internationally renowned festival city. The Fringe continues to play an essential role in the worldwide arts community, enabling artists to showcase their work, reach new audiences and make new connections.”

The Book Festival also saw audiences surge.

More than a quarter of a million book lovers passed through the festival’s tented village in Charlotte Square Gardens and surrounding George Street.

Ticket sales were up more than four per cent and book sales also grew, with 63,000 sold in the 17 days of the event. The best-selling book was Nasty Women, a collection of essays, interviews and accounts of what it is to be a woman in the 21st century, from new Scottish publishers 404 Ink.

Nick Barley, director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said: “It’s wonderful to see that our extension into George Street has attracted new audiences, while allowing us to retain all the spirit and vigour of the Book Festival’s beating heart in Charlotte Square Gardens.

“This year’s festival has been a riot of ideas, entertainment and unforgettable conversations involving writers and readers from all corners of the world – from Bonnyrigg to Buenos Aires and from Lewis to Lagos.”

Award-winning children’s author Cressida Cowell, who launched the first book of her new series at the book festival, said: “I have special affection for this festival because [her novel] How to Train your Dragon was so directly inspired by my childhood on a tiny, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland. Edinburgh audiences are always brilliantly enthusiastic and supportive – I love visiting.”

Councillor Donald Wilson, the council’s Edinburgh Festivals Champion, said: “This really has been a summer to mark all summers and a celebration of Edinburgh, its people, and of courses the many performers and talented individuals who join us year upon year, decade upon decade. I don’t think there is an atmosphere anywhere in the world that comes close to Edinburgh in August.”

Last night the festivals ended with a bang, as they do every year, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. playing along to some 40,000 fireworks lighting up the capital’s sky.

For the people of Edinburgh, today is a chance to take a breath and get reaccustomed to the suddenly emptier streets. They have a about two months of peace and quiet until the tourists start flocking back to the city for Hogmanay.