Edinburgh Fringe 2010: Festival unveils biggest ever programme

DIGESTING the ingredients of the Fringe programme is always a daunting prospect - and this year it's more of an Alka-Selzer-inducing banquet than ever before.

For its 64th year, the Edinburgh comedy, theatre and music extravaganza has swelled considerably, from 2,098 shows last year to 2,453 in 2010 - a belt-popping increase of 17 per cent.

How could they possibly add more shows to an already massive event?

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The answer lies in the creation of three new venues: The Pleasance at Ghillie Dhu, Assembly at Princes Street Gardens, and the Mary of Guise Barge at The Shore in Leith.

• For more on the Edinburgh Festivals, visit our dedicated website and blog.

Launching the programme, Kath Mainland, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: "I am delighted to unveil the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme which yet again exemplifies why the Fringe is the world's leading arts festival.

"As you'll see from this year's programme, Edinburgh in August will be bursting with the most talented artists from every area of the arts world. Nowhere else can you see such a variety of world class talent and range of shows that are guaranteed to engage, enthral, excite and delight."

If you are yet to obtain a copy of the programme, here are some of the highlights:

• Scots acting star Alan Cumming performing songs from his debut album in I Bought a Blue Car Today.

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• Chart-topping rapper Dizzee Rascal headlining The Edge Festival (the Fringe's musical strand) at the Corn Exchange. Other acts include Doves, Phoenix and Eels.

• The Wire's Clark Peters in Five Guys Named Moe at Underbelly.

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• The Emma Thompson-backed play Fair Trade, about sex trafficking in Britain.

• Unfinished Business, a hard-hitting one-man play about the Lockerbie disaster.

• Decky Does a Bronco, a site-specific Douglas Maxwell play from the ground-breaking Grid Iron company.

• Michael Urie (Ugly Betty's Marc St James) and George Wendt (Cheers' Norm) star in Celebrity Autobiography, at Udderbelly.

• The return of Fringe comedy favourites Paul Merton, Arthur Smith, Jim Jefferies, Barry Cryer, Ardal O'Hanlon, Shappi Khorsandi, Fred MacAulay, Mark Watson and Jason Byrne - as well as a host of newcomers.

• Beautiful Burnout, a play by Bryony Lavery about junior boxing.

The 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs from 6 – 30 August.

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The Fringe Box Office opens on Friday 11th June at 8am. Tickets can be booked at www.edfringe.com or by calling 0131 226 0000.