THE weather may have been ropey at times last week but that didn’t deter Fringe by the Sea audiences turning out in record numbers as the annual festival again proved a big hit.

Sell-out signs outside the Spiegeltents were proof of the diverse interests of both residents and visitors to North Berwick for this year’s festival, which came to a close on Sunday.

Political talks from former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell created a lot of attention; comedy from Fred MacAulay, Simon Evans, Janey Godley, Reginald D Hunter and Jamie MacDonald produced a lot of laughs; and music from all genres brought crowds along to listen and dance.

Family shows, as ever, were a huge hit, seeing toddlers throw shapes at the Monski Mouse Baby Disco Dancehall, to Dr Ben Garrod enthralling them all with his incredible knowledge of dinosaurs.

Inspirational women talked about their lives and influences, with one having the audience in tears as she reminisced about what had changed her life.

When the sun shone, people gathered at the harbourside at the Fringe by the Sea venue, soaking up the atmosphere and eating from the selection of top-quality food that North Berwick restaurants and cafes had to offer. From pizza to mussels and ice cream, not to mention The Ship Inn bar, it proved to be an ‘in’ place to hang out.

On Friday, Scottish explorer Mollie Hughes had the festival crew in stitches as they prepared the stage during one of the most torrential bouts of rain. Undaunted by the lashing rain, she said: “This is worse than the top of Mount Everest.”

Niall Middleton, co-director of Fringe by the Sea, said: “This has been an outstanding year. The feedback from both audiences and participants has been incredible as they have all enjoyed being part of the festival.

“We couldn’t have done it without our funders, sponsors and volunteers.

“So roll on 2020 as we look forward to seeing North Berwick host what we think is the best festival around.”