THE Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a world famous celebration of dance, theatre, music and comedy.

But appearing in the three week festival, especially for debut performers shouldering the cost and stress of performing in Edinburgh’s world-famous event, can also be testing and, at times, overwhelming.

This year, as the Fringe unveils its biggest- ever programme for the 2019 festival, organisers have revealed a series of new measures to address the mental health of its performers at its base, Fringe Central.

The daily health and well-being measures, including counselling services aim to help performers at a “stressful and pressured time”, especially those in the 1000 shows where performers are entering the three-week Fringe maelstrom for the first time.

This year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe is once again even larger in size and scale than the year before: the 2019 programme includes 3,841 shows, up from 3,548 in 2018, and 59,600 performances, up from 56,796.

The programme has a record 63 countries represented, and more than 700 free shows, with more than 400 ‘pay what you want’ shows, an increase from 260 last year.

In the 2019 Fringe programme - more than 450 pages long - there are also 963 Scottish shows, with 744 being produced from Edinburgh.

Shona McCarthy, the chief executive of the Fringe Society, said that the new measures for the well being of performers has been boosted from previous years.

One-person shows, often with personal and confessional content, can be enervating for performers, the festival noted.

The Fringe is also opening Respite Room, a dedicated space for performers who need help, and “away from the bustle of the Fringe.”

Ms McCarthy said: “There is exhaustion, it is a long run to do, especially if you are doing a one person show - you can be exhausted by the end of it. If your show isn’t doing as well as you hoped it would, it can be demoralising.

“We have 1000 new shows, first-timers, on the Fringe this year - and it can be daunting landscape for those of us who have been around for a long time, so for someone coming to it completely new, and not necessarily having the confidence to make networks or make connections, it is about creating that sense of community that established Fringe-goers feel strongly.

“We are providing those services for people who are really struggling.”

Once again the Fringe, which will run from 2 to 26 August, will be a perhaps overwhelming festival of theatre, dance, circus, physical theatre, comedy, music, musicals and opera, cabaret and variety, children’s shows, spoken word, free shows, exhibitions and other events.

The sheer scale of the festival is one again sure to continue to generate debate over the escalating size of the festival, and how it effects the capital in which it is based.

Last year, the Fringe issued 2.8 million tickets, a record, 5% higher than 2017, and is on course, at the current rate of growth, to sell or distribute 3m tickets.

This year the Fringe Society, which runs the annual festival in August, has introduced a new feature, the Inspiration Machine, “an interactive, arcade-style machine that will randomly display videos from Fringe artists at the push of a button.”

The street events will once again return to the Royal Mile and the Mound Precinct, managed by the Fringe Society and sponsored by Virgin Money.

There are some new venues for the Fringe this year, including two in Leith, Quality Yard, near the Shore, a street art exhibition space, while The Old Dr Bells Baths makes use of a newly renovated former swimming pool on Great Junction Street.

Tynecastle Parkwill host A War of Two Halves, while on a smaller scale, the performers behind theatre show Arthur are creating their own venue, Your Home, asking audience members to open their doors and host the show.

Fiona Hyslop, the culture secretary, said the Fringe is an “economic powerhouse, generating £144 million for the Edinburgh economy and £173 million for Scotland’s economy.”

Cllr Donald Wilson, culture convener for Edinburgh Council, said:”I particularly welcome the Inspiration Machine as a means of boosting exposure of all that is on offer.”