Fringe director and CEO Heather Croall said she was delighted with the success of the event after an extraordinary year, adding that audiences had embraced the COVID-safe guidelines – including e-ticketing, scanning QR codes on entry to venues, and wearing masks in venues with more than 75 per cent capacity.

The open-access festival featured more than 900 events over 31 days ­– including 85 in outdoor spaces – and attracted an estimated total attendance of 2.7 million. Despite border restrictions at the start of the Fringe, figures show that of the total 632,667 tickets sold, more than 73,710 were to tourists visiting South Australia.

A total of 4821 registered artists participated in the program, with 71 per cent of shows from South Australia compared with 52 per cent in 2020.

“Because of the international travel ban, it was an opportunity for South Australian artists to shine in their hometown when usually they would be performing in all corners of the globe, so we really did have the best that the country has to offer, right here at Fringe,” Croall said.

While total ticket sales were down significantly on last year’s result (853,419 tickets sold), that was to be expected given the COVID constraints and a smaller program of events.

A total of $52,000 was raised for artists through the new ticketing initiative “Double Your Applause”, which invited audiences to buy two seats – one for themselves and one as a donation for the empty COVID-safe seat next to them.

Croall told ABC 891 this morning that attendances were strong over the final weekend, with many shows selling out.

Gluttony, in Rymill Park, had its biggest house ever on the weekend, with more than 1000 patrons attending the sold-out music show Jackson Vs Jackson in the hub’s new large outdoor venue The Moa, which was operating at 75 per cent capacity. Extra shows were also added for comedian Ross Noble, comedy hypnotist Matt Hale, circus show Rouge and music performance Inma.

A Gluttony spokesperson told InDaily that it had sold 260,000 tickets over the 2021 season, with more than 500,000 people going through the gates. Fringe weekly award winner Rouge sold around 17,000 tickets across the season, which is believed to make it the highest-selling individual stage show at Adelaide Fringe this year.

Art-meets-technology installation Borealis, a stunning version of the aurora borealis which is being presented over Rymill Park Lake, sold around 35,000 tickets. Its season has been extended beyond Fringe to March 28.

QR codes at the entrance to the Garden of Unearthly Delights. Photo: Fumika Takagi

The Garden of Unearthly Delights said “comedy was king” in the Rundle Park hub, with its highest-selling shows including the Umbilical Brothers, Jimeoin, Arj Barker, Abandoman and Tommy Little. It also added additional sessions for many shows to meet audience demand.

Michelle Buxton, co-director of The Garden of Unearthly Delights, said it had had been “a very successful season”.

“The simple but profound joy of seeing performers back on stage and houses filled with smiling faces is something I will never take for granted again,” she said.

“The journey to our 2021 season was certainly a rollercoaster ride and I am so proud of what we have achieved together this year.”

The RCC, which this year returned to its original home in Victoria Square, said it sold more than 50,000 tickets across its 16-day season.

Rather than selling tickets to specific shows within the hub, the latest version of the RCC charged a flat entrance fee that covered a range of different entertainment – including live music, a large inflatable art installation, an interactive light performance, and a hybrid rehearsal-performance stage curated by Gravity & Other Myths.

The team running the venue said 2021 had “cemented a new era for RCC in these challenging times for festivals and creatives”.

Other venues, including theatre hub Holden Street Theatres, also sold out many sessions of their flagship shows across the season.

Two Holden Street shows were among the overall 2021 Adelaide Fringe award winners announced yesterday, with Dirt receiving the Adelaide Critics Circle Award and the Frank Ford Award, and The Twins taking home the Mindspace Mental Health Awareness Award.

Borealis was named Best Event, and dance and music performance Inma (featuring the Iwiri choir, Electric Fields and SA First Nations Dance Collective) won Pick of the Fringe, with other award winners including NellaFirst Nation Voices, Don’t Mess With the Dummies, Eating Tomorrow, Human, The Alphabet of Awesome Science, Does It Please You?, Something in the Water, Contact, Barbaroi, 27 Club, The Jack and Annie Show, Reuben Kaye, White Rhino, Still Alive (and Kicking), 7 Day Notice, The Umbilical Brothers, RCC 2021, Janet’s Vagrant Love, Nick Nickolas: Gobsmacked, and The Guildhouse Collections Project: Ritual Nature by Ray Harris.

Adelaide Festival also recently reported strong results for 2021 despite the COVID challenges, selling more than 61,000 tickets with a total value of $3.7 million ($1 million over target).

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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.