Edmonton & Winnipeg Fringe Festivals break records in 2009

The final numbers for the 28th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival were released yesterday: a record-breaking 92,279 tickets were sold over 11 days. Less than a month ago, the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival announced that it had sold 81,565 tickets over 12 days, a new record at the time for fringe festivals in North America. Edmonton held the previous record – 77,700 tickets in 2006.

Clearly, this year has been a good one for North America’s two largest fringe festivals. Being the stats junkie that I am, I decided to look up the ticket sales for Edmonton and Winnipeg in recent years. I was able to find solid numbers for 2002 onward:

These numbers come from newspaper articles as well as press releases from the festivals themselves. There are a few minor discrepancies depending on which source you look at. For example, this year’s numbers for Winnipeg are inconsistent – the official site says 81,353 but all the media articles say 81,565. I went with the number I saw most often.

In tabular form:

Year Edmonton Winnipeg
2009 92279 81565
2008 77204 72722
2007 74693 71921
2006 77700 69320
2005 70700 66315
2004 60442 68470
2003 68000 67002
2002 68925 62801

I’m sure there’s a spreadsheet of ticket sales for all of the Canadian fringe festivals somewhere, but I haven’t been able to track it down (looking at you CAFF). I wanted to see how Edmonton and Winnipeg compared with other cities in Canada. It didn’t take long to find the numbers for 2007, which while slightly out of date, give you an idea of the relative size of each festival:

The red area is the metro population for each city, to show how big each festival is relative to the overall population. Edmonton and Winnipeg are clearly in a class of their own!

I look forward to the fringe each year, and I’m obviously not the only one. Here’s to hoping the friendly competition between Edmonton and Winnipeg continues to benefit both cities for years to come!

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