After months of build up the world’s largest arts festival has officially kicked off in Edinburgh.

The 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs from 3 August until 27 August.

The Fringe has grown in its 66th year to become the biggest yet. There are 2,695 shows in 279 venues made up of an estimated 22,457 performers.

For three weeks the whole of Edinburgh plays host to this spectacular event as theatres, bars, schools, churches and every conceivable space becomes a venue.

As usual the festival comprises some of the world’s best comedy, theatre, music, musicals and opera, cabaret, dance and physical theatre, exhibitions and children’s shows. Also, for the first time, this year the programme has a spoken word category.

Kath M Mainland, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said:

“Every year we see more and more brilliantly creative people coming to the Fringe with stories to tell and an amazing international audience eagerly waiting to hear them. The magic of the Fringe is that there’s something for everyone. There’s nowhere else on earth quite like Edinburgh in August and I cannot wait to see what the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe will bring”.