The Edinburgh Festival Fringe opens today with a record number of acts ready to entertain audiences.
Comedians, musicians, dancers and actors from more than 40 countries will take to the streets and stages of the Scottish capital for the next month in what is said to be the world’s biggest arts festival.
Organisers said 2013 will be a record year with 2,871 shows to be performed by 24,107 artists in 273 venues, an increase of 6.5% on last year’s programme.
With acts performing numerous times throughout August there will be a total of 45,464 performances, with comedy making up a third of the shows.
Ticket prices vary with established and unknown acts performing, but organisers said there are 713 free shows this year.
Kath Maitland, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: “You never know what you’re going to get with the Fringe, that’s the beauty of it, what we do know is that tens of thousands of artists are already descending on the city to bring the best work they possibly can to audiences.
“What the response will be we don’t know and I guess that’s the excitement of it, it’s a festival of discovery really.”
The Fringe has a reputation for discovering new acting and comedy talent but plenty of famous faces return each year to perform. Jason Manford, Russell Kane, Reginald D Hunter and Jenny Eclair are among the big name comedians performing throughout August.
Ms Maitland said: “There’s so many committed, creative people who make up this festival that I think it’s in good stead.
“Lots of venues have been opening over the last few days, lots of companies and artists are here already desperately putting the finishing touches to their work and we’re really looking forward to it.
“It is a big programme, there’s no doubt about that, but there are lots of ways to narrow it and find something that appeals to you.
“I always encourage visitors to take time to talk to people in the street about what they’ve enjoyed, it’s a great way to see work that you perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise.”
A recent study found that the festival generates around £142 million for the Scottish economy each year.