Madonna's Sticky and Sweet tour was the highest-grossing series of concerts in 2008, with a massive worldwide haul of $281.6 million (£193 million).

The Material Girl's global jaunt, which featured a virtual duet with Justin Timberlake and a Ukranian gypsy band, also became the eighth highest-grossing tour of all time in the US, according to music trade publication Pollstar.

Madonna's touring fortunes contrast with upheaval in her personal life - divorcing filmmaker Guy Ritchie after almost eight years of marriage - and recent professional woes, with her latest single Miles Away one of the worst performing of her career.

The 50-year-old's Sticky and Sweet tour also broke her own record for the most successful by a solo artist, surpassing the $193.7 million (£127.5 million) grossed by 2006's Confessions show.

Celine Dion's Taking Chances tour, which visited 24 countries, was the second highest earner of the year with $236.6 million (£162 million) while Bon Jovi's latest jaunt pulled in $176 million (£121 million).

While Pollstar reported concert attendance levels in the US dropped in 2008, it confirmed average ticket prices had risen some eight per cent to $66.90 (£46).

"We've had a better year than we really should have expected, given the economic environment," said editor Gary Bongiovanni.

He added ticket sales for high-profile artists such as Britney Spears and Bruce Springsteen were unlikely to be hit by the global financial crisis.

The top ten highest-grossing tours of 2008 are:

1 Madonna - £193 million
2 Celine Dion - £162 million
3 Bon Jovi - £121 million
4 Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - £114 million
5 The Police - £83 million
6 Neil Diamond - £65 million
7 Eagles - £61 million
8 Andre Rieu - £53 million
9 Kenny Chesney - £49.7 million
10 Coldplay - £49.5 million

02/01/2009 12:01:17