THE Edinburgh Fringe has been named as the greatest experience in the UK by travel guide Lonely Planet.

Selected by travel experts, the Fringe came out on top of 500 experiences across the UK, with Scotland having three in the top 20 and 67 in all. Lonely Planet said Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe staked its claim to the top spot because “the Fringe floods the city with art and nowhere beats it for spectacle or scale… There is theatre, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret, opera, music and spoken word, and whatever the time of day, an acrobat, trapeze artist, contortionist or tried-and-tested bagpiping busker will be pleased to entertain you … Simply step through the looking glass and prepare to be dazzled by the greatest show of arts and culture on Earth.”

The accolade has been warmly welcomed in Edinburgh and by the Scottish Government’s

tourism quango VisitScotland.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “We are enormously proud to be named the UK’s top experience in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist, a true testament to the creativity, energy and imagination that Fringe artists and audiences bring to Edinburgh each year. What makes the Fringe so special is that everyone with a story to tell is welcome, and with a record 63 countries represented on stage this year and nearly 1000 shows from Scotland, this year’s festival is playing host to a truly unique combination of homegrown and international talent. The Fringe is a real celebration of Edinburgh and the people that make it.”

Lonely Planet’s VP of experience, Tom Hall, said: “We’re thrilled to name the world’s largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the UK’s top experience – it’s one of the most exciting and diverse destinations on the planet.”

Malcolm Roughead of VisitScotland said of Scotland’s entries: “Scotland is home to many amazing experiences so it’s no surprise they feature prominently in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist.

“Tourism is vital to the Scottish economy, reaching every corner of the country, creating jobs and bringing economic and social change. Accolades like this highlight Scotland as a world-class destination however it is imperative that we don’t become complacent. We need to continue to create must-see experiences, events and attractions that continue to inspire travellers and keep up with the ever-changing demands of visitors.”

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is followed by London’s British Museum – “the envy of the world” – at number 2 and “timeless … and unrepeatable” Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland at number 3. It is joined by two other Scottish entries in the top 20: Glencoe in 17th place and Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh in 19th. In total, 67 Scottish entries made the list, including Skara Brae at 22, Edinburgh’s Royal Mile at 24, the North Coast 500 at 37, and the Fairy Pools at 41.