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Edinburgh Fringe unveils new, even bigger programme

Scotland's biggest arts festival has got even bigger - the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has unveiled a programme which is 11% larger than 2013.

The 414-page programme features 3,193 shows, which is a record for the annual August festival in 299 venues, with 50,771 performances overall.

The Fringe is also unveiling a new ticketing system, which includes, among other features, the ability for audience members to post reviews of the shows.

Last year the festival broke its own record for tickets issued (both free and paid for), registering 1.94m tickets in its run, a 5% rise.

With an expanded programme, this year's festival could be poised to break the 2m barrier for the first time.

New ticket collection points have been added to the city, including the Institut français d'Ecosse in the west end of the city and the Domestic Arrivals Hall at Edinburgh Airport.

As reported in The Herald today, there will also be a return for the ticket office at Glasgow Queen Street station.

New venues at the Fringe include Riddle's Court, a 16th century courtyard house on the Royal Mile, as well as the return of La Belle Angele on the Cowgate.

The Famous Spiegeltent will be located in St Andrew's Square, alongside Stand in the Square, and a new open air stage.

There is a change in programme categorization: Dance and Physical Theatre is now Dance, Circus and Physical Theatre in recognition of the growth and popularity of circus shows.

The Spoken Word category, which was introduced in 2012 sees an 88% increase in the number of shows since last year to a total of 124 - making up just under 4% of the total programme.

Children's shows also see a significant increase, with 22% more shows in this category than in 2013.

Overall, the Fringe will feature 49,497 performances (up from 45,204 last year) of 3,193 shows (up from 2,871 shows last year) in 299 venues (up from 273 venues last year).

Comedy makes up 34% of the programme, up from 33%, while Theatre slips slightly from 29% last year to 28% this year. Music is 13%, compared to 14% in 2013, while spoken word events rise from 2% last year to 4%.

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

As was perhaps to be expected, the Independence Referendum looms large in the programme.

These include All Back to Bowie's a "mix of politics, poetry, polemic and pop", as well as the National Collective Presents… at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

Spoiling at the Traverse looks at a future Scottish Foreign Minister torn between her own views and towing the party line, while MacBraveheart: The Other Scottish Play at the Assembly Rooms is billed as a "dystopian view on Scottish identity and independence, contrasting the views of three of Scotland's greatest heroes, Wallace, Bruce and Burns".

Other referendum themed shows include Now's The Hour by Scottish Youth Theatre and Erich McElroy's The British Referendum.

Kath M Mainland, chief executive of The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, which runs the annual August festival, said: "The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is many things to many people and part of the success of the Fringe is that whatever you are looking for, and in whatever capacity you are looking, you can almost certainly be satisfied by what you find.

"This year the Fringe includes 3,193 shows which is a record number of shows, but more importantly the programme offers the widest selection of international high quality arts and entertainment that you will find in any one place at any one time. A truly unique experience.

"This year is an incredibly important year for Scotland with major international cultural, sporting and political events taking place."

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