Edinburgh Festival Fringe Begins

This year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe officially gets under way today, with more than 3,000 shows catering for a wide range of tastes.

Organisers say the arts festival - the largest in the world - will be the biggest in its history.

There will be 49,497 performances of 3,193 shows across the city, an 11% increase on last year's programme.

Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: "It gives me great pleasure to say that the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 is finally here.

"We have been getting ready for Fringe 2014 for the past year and it feels fantastic to launch what will definitely be an unforgettable month of arts and culture.

"The sheer volume of performers, companies and venues who are gathering in Edinburgh to be part of this year's festival is overwhelming and further solidifies the Edinburgh Festival Fringe's position as the best place in the world for artists to showcase their work.''

Now in its 67th year, the Fringe programme promises audiences comedy, theatre, dance, circus and physical theatre, cabaret, events, exhibitions, children's shows, music, musicals and opera and spoken word events.

There are 825 free shows, 1,789 premieres and 47 different countries are represented.

Shows will take place in 299 venues across Edinburgh, including a number of new ones.

Riddle's Court, an A-listed 16th-century courtyard house set behind the Royal Mile, is in operation again following conservation work, and joins the C Group as venue C Cubed, while La Belle Angele on Cowgate is reopening as a venue, following the devastating fire in 2002.

This year the former dance and physical theatre category has expanded to become dance, circus and physical theatre in recognition of the growth and popularity of circus shows over the last couple of years.

Spoken Word, which was introduced in 2012 and includes events such as poetry readings and talks, sees an 88% increase in the number of shows since last year to a total of 124.

There has also been a big rise in children's shows, with 22% more in this category than last year.

Organisers said that customers will find it easier to search for shows and buy tickets through the Fringe website, where they can also post reviews.

They have also increased the number of ticket collection points around the city. And in Glasgow, currently the host city for the Commonwealth Games, customers heading to the capital can pick up their tickets at Queen Street Station.

Ms Mainland said: "The Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world and draws artists and audiences from all over the globe to Edinburgh.

"It's the high point of the year in the arts calendar and I look forward to joining the thousands of residents and visitors to Edinburgh in embracing and enjoying what looks set to be the biggest and most exciting Fringe in history.''

The Fringe runs between August 1 and 25.

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