Sunny weather likely to draw more day-trippers to Grahamstown

2012-07-04 00:00

WITH fewer than five days left, National Arts Festival (NAF) organisers in Grahamstown say ticket sales are up more than 11% year on year.

“Our first-half figures show that, compared to the same period last year, the number of tickets sold has grown by around 11,8% across both the main and fringe,” chief executive officer Tony Lankester said, adding that this did not mean they could count on similar levels of growth for the whole event.

“There are a number of big shows still to come which sold out on pre-sales. Those sales are counted in the first weekend’s figures, even though the tickets will only be used later on in the festival.”

In 2011, just over 200 000 people attended the Grahamstown festival, but the NAF is hoping to better that figure, thanks to the warm, sunny weather which has greeted visitors to the Eastern Cape.

“Even the first Monday — typically our quietest day — saw the town and Village Green packed with festival-goers,” Lankester said. He said many of the extra visitors had come up from Port Elizabeth, East London and other parts of the Eastern Cape.

With the warm weather set to continue for the rest of the festival, and a new initiative — the 50% Fringe Day on Sunday, during which all fringe tickets will be sold at half price — festival organisers are hoping that more day-trippers will head to Grahamstown.

This year’s festival has hosted more than 120 sold-out performances, including those of Durban-based KickstArt Theatre Company’s superb two-hander, Red, starring Michael and Jeremy Richard; The Three Little Pigs, starring former Maritzburg College pupils James Cairns and Rob van Vuuren; Vortex and Afternoon of a Foehn — two productions by the Non Nova Company, which formed part of the French Season in South Africa; Cape Town City Ballet’s Giselle, which featured live accompaniment by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO); the world premiere of Athol Fugard’s The Blue Iris; and the KZNPO’s Gala Concert.

“We’re very pleased with the number of sold-out shows,” festival director Ismail Mahomed said.

He said there was plenty more to come across the main and the fringe, including the launch of the first season of solo theatre.

Tickets for the festival can be booked through Computicket.

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