THIS year will see the biggest Edinburgh Festival Fringe yet, with more than 3,500 shows, nearly 57,000 performances, and plans for a major revamp of outdoor shows on the Royal Mile.

However, the Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world, is also looking ahead.

The annual jamboree of theatre, dance, comedy, music and more has unveiled a new Blueprint for the next five years of the festival, taking it to 2022, the festival's 75th anniversary.

READ MORE: Blueprint for the future? Fringe takes on problems it alone cannot solve

The ambitious Blueprint, launched by chief executive Shona McCarthy, lists a series of "big ambitions" for the festival, including making it more affordable for artists, a better connection to education, a look at the problem of accommodation in the festival period, increasing its inclusivity, as well finding a new HQ for the Fringe Society, which would be open "year-round".

In a section dedicated to keeping the Fringe affordable for artists, it says: "The moment Edinburgh becomes too expensive for artists is the moment the Fringe ceases to function."

The Society, which runs the festival, is currently based in three buildings, including its well-known shop on the High Street, and Ms McCarthy said it is open to either a new building or utilising a new one for a new base in the capital.

Ms McCarthy said that many of the aspirations in the document is also a "massive call out for help" to other major bodies in the city, including the city council, to help deliver the changes.

It also pledges to ensure that artists can attend the Fringe permit-free after Brexit, and says it will freeze participation fees until at least 2022.

It promises to "seek to increase the availability of affordable accommodation."

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The 2018 Fringe will also feature 697 free shows, 260 "pay what you want" events, nearly 2000 premieres, and a series of new venues, including a "bath bus", a caravan, and a chicken coop, and the Leith Docker's Club.

This year will see a relaunch of the street events, which are sponsored by Virgin Money, on the High Street and Mound.

There will be on the Royal Mile, the festival said "spectacular entrance archways", new showcases on two major stages, and "hundreds of brightly coloured pigeons".

"The street will look and feel different this year, not only in terms of the look, but in terms of our approach," Ms McCarthy said.

"We are not bringing back Fringe Sunday, but there are elements of it, with every Sunday a 1'o'clock comedy showcase.

"It will be the street performers, the buskers, but also more of a showcase for the wider Fringe as well - you will see the street itself as a venue."

The Blueprint says the festival will have a new expert panel of "diverse advisors to support artists from black, minority ethnic, working class, disabled and LGBT backgrounds."

Ms McCarthy added: "The Fringe Blueprint identifies new approaches to ensure anyone can participate, regardless of their background.

"From driving down the cost of attendance to engaging young people in the arts and reaching out to underrepresented groups in Edinburgh and further afield, we want the Fringe to be the greatest festival on earth at which to perform, run a venue, develop a career, see shows and discover talent."

READ MORE: Blueprint for the future? Fringe takes on problems it alone cannot solve

Well known names with shows this year include Katherine Parkinson, Su Pollard, Craig Hill and Daniel Sloss, Jason Donovan, Esther Rantzen, Maureen Lipman, Julie Hesmondhalgh, former MP Gyles Brandreth, Rory Bremner and Jan Ravens, Reginald D. Hunter and Craig Hill, Janeane Garofalo, Judah Friedlander.

From the world of children’s entertainment, Once Seen on Blue Peter is a theatrical tribute to the world’s longest-running children’s TV show, starring former Blue Peter presenters Peter Purves, Janet Ellis, Peter Duncan, Mark Curry and Tim Vincent.

The writer and musician Darren McGarvey, also known as Loki, will appear in Poverty Safari Live.

Music at the Fringe includes Super Furry Animal’s frontman Gruff Rhys, country star Beth Nielsen Chapman, Pussy Riot, Kevin Rowland and many others.

Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd will record their podcast Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd: Reasons to Be Cheerful at the Fringe, discussing politics and ideas with each other and special guests.

In the programme, theatre is 27% of the shows, with comedy at 35%, and music at 14%.