This year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe truly promises to be the greatest show on earth with more artists performing more work, in more venues, than ever before.

A 6% increase on last year’s programme will see 2,695 shows take to theatres, pubs, nooks, crannies and gardens all over Scotland’s capital in August.

This 2012 Fringe programme makes space for the introduction of a Spoken Word category. Everything from poetry to oratory and storytelling to reportage has a place here. Scotland’s Makar (National Poet) Liz Lochhead will be one of the first 41 shows to be listed in this new category with Liz Lochhead: Making Nothing Happen (Assembly Rooms). Luke Wright - Your New Favourite Poet (Underbelly) returns after a strong reception in 2011. Mark Grist - Rogue Teacher (Underbelly) became an internet sensation last year after a video of him and one of his pupils in a rap battle went viral.

As well as Spoken Word, this year’s Fringe programme contains the usual heady mix of Cabaret, Children’s shows, Comedy, Dance and Physical Theatre, Events, Exhibition, Music, Musicals and Opera and Theatre.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has also announced that for the first time ever there will be a box office operating in Glasgow for the duration of the Fringe. The new box office will, thanks to the support of First ScotRail, be based at Glasgow Queen Street Station and will open on 27 July, selling tickets from 8.00am to 8.00pm every day until 27 August.

Launching the 2012 programme Kath M Mainland, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said:

“I am delighted to be able to launch the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Programme. This promises to be the most exciting and exhilarating Fringe yet. This year sees 2,695 shows in 279 venues across the city, which is 6% more than ever before.

“This is the Year of Creative Scotland and it is the year in which the world’s greatest sporting event, the Olympic and Paralympic Games, happens in London while the world’s greatest cultural event takes place in Edinburgh.

“The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is still the first choice for performers, producers, artists and creators to come and tell their story; we are proud that the Fringe is still the place to bring your work, with opportunities to amaze, enthral and excite audiences from both far away and close to home.

“We have a programme that will capture the attention of people all over the world and demonstrate why over the last sixty six years the Fringe has grown into the greatest show on earth. “

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop MSP said:

“The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest international art festival, extending a warm annual welcome to artists and performers from across the globe and showcasing Scotland’s rich culture, heritage and distinct identity on the world stage. The Festival Fringe promises to deliver an exciting and diverse programme again this year.

“The twelve Edinburgh Festivals contribute £250 million to Scotland's economy. It makes strong economic sense - particularly during the Year of Creative Scotland - to ensure that Scotland's own exceptionally creative talent is at the heart of Edinburgh's festival activity, and can benefit from the global exposure that this generates.

“That is why, through the Expo Fund, we have awarded £440,000 to support a range of Scottish-based talent to showcase their excellent work at this year’s Festival Fringe."

The Rt. Hon. Donald Wilson, Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh, said:

"Yet again the Edinburgh Festival Fringe promises to dazzle, entertain and educate audiences young and old across the city. Scotland's capital truly is the only place to be this August."

The 2012 Fringe will be the 10th for the Escalator East to Edinburgh showcase. The initiative which supports artists and companies from the East of England has ten shows in Edinburgh this year. These include the play You Obviously Know What I’m Talking About (Underbelly) which is a surrealist look at the worst day of your life and Thin Ice (Pleasance) which tells the story of man frozen in ice thawing out.

The 60th anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen’s reign is marked with La Clique Royale - The Queen’s Selection (Famous Spiegeltent) which promises to be better than the Royal Variety Performance. Maurice’s Jubilee (Pleasance) sees Julian Glover and Sheila Reid in a brand new play by Nichola McAuliffe and Tea With The Old Queen (C venues) tells the true story of the Queen Mother’s butler ‘Backstairs Billy’.

There’s plenty of politics at this year’s Fringe too. Comedians Jo Caulfield and Alistair Barrie will star in Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky’s show Coalition (Pleasance) while, in a piece of new writing from Rab C Nesbitt creator Ian Pattison, Des Maclean willtell the story of former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan in I, Tommy (Gilded Balloon). Election: A Silent Comedy (Bedlam) takes a slapstick approach to policy and campaigning and in Tony Benn: Will and Testament (Assembly Rooms) the former Minister shares some of his life experience.

Two shows talking about the media and the Leveson Inquiry are One Rogue Reporter (Pleasance) where former tabloid journalist Rich Peppiat spills the beans of his former employers and Journos (The Space @ Surgeon’s Hall) is the world premiere of Adam Jordan Donaldson’s new play all about the world of journalism.

The Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund supported Made In Scotland showcase returns for its fourth year with a line up including Educating Ronnie (Assembly George Square) which tells the true story of the friendship between Joe Douglas and his Ugandan sponsoree Ronnie; Leaving Limbo Landing (St Andrew Square Gardens) by Caroline Bowditch is a co-presentation of Dance Base and East London Dance that will see dancers and acrobats take to water tanks and huge structures built in the centre of Edinburgh. In Bullet Catch (Traverse Theatre) one lucky audience member will be asked to fire a gun that shoots a bullet that artist Rob Drummond will then catch in his teeth.

After successful trips to the Fringe in the past, Northern Stage have secured Arts Council England support to establish their own venue. Northern Stage at St Stephen’s will allow them to present their work alongside performances from other companies from the North East of England. Shows at the venue include Best in the World which promises live darts while Oh, The Humanity and Other Good Intentions is a collection of five New York plays and Tea is an Evening Meal sees Lancashire lass Faye welcome the audience round the teatime table.

The now well-established Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society venue Fringe Central will host a number of events focused on helping participants get the most out of their Fringe. Creative Exchange Scotland aims to bring together Scotland’s performing arts sector with the rest of the world and spark relationships, share ideas, discover new collaboration prospects and gain support from each other. There’s also a puppetry workshop, advice for emerging playwrights from the National Theatre Studio and workshops presented by The Stage.

For the first time Old Vic New Voices have joined forces with Underbelly to bring a season of new work to Edinburgh. Glory Dazed tells the story of a squaddie trying to re-adjust to civilian life and trying to win his ex-wife back. One Hour Only is a debate in a brothel between a first time punter and a first time prostitute.

As usual the Fringe attracts some well known names to Edinburgh’s stages. Comedian and former Family Fortunes frontman Les Dennis stars in Jigsy (Assembly Rooms), the story of a comedian with over 30 years in the business; Educating Rita (Assembly George Square) has Matthew Kelly and Claire Sweeney take on the lead roles in Willy Russell’s famous play. Re-Animator The Musical (Assembly George Square) based on HP Lovecraft’s seminal piece, will see George Wendt, better known as Norm from Cheers make his second trip to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Once again the Fringe remains the home of comedy with established names like Alan Davies - Life is Pain (Venue 150 @ EICC) here for the first time in a decade; Paul Merton's Impro Chums (Pleasance) will see him team up with Mike McShane, Lee Simpson, Richard Vranch and Suki Webster for an hour of improvised fun. Phill Jupitus - You're Probably Wondering Why I've Asked You Here... (The Stand Comedy Club)is one of two shows the Never Mind The Buzzcocks team captain will be involved with at this year’s Fringe, the other being his free poetry show Phill Jupitus is Porky the Poet in 27 Years On (Jam House). Rhod Gilbert: The Man With the Flaming Battenberg Tattoo (Venue 150 @ EICC) sees a brand new show from the Fringe favourite; Sandi Toksvig Live: My Valentine (Pleasance) will see the return of the comedian, novelist, actor, broadcaster, show-off and international treasure. Canadian favourite Greg Proops makes his return with a regular stand up show and with his well known Greg Proops Podcast: The Smartest Man in the World (Gilded Balloon).

The Fringe is also known as a place to discover the next comedy superstar. Some of the up and coming comics at this year’s festival include Michael Workman – Mercy (Gilded Balloon) who won this year’s Best Comedy Award at Adelaide. AAA Stand-Up Late (Pleasance) will see winner of So You Think You’re Funny 2011 Tommy Rowson return to the Fringe. The winner of Chortle’s breakthrough act returns with Tony Law Maximum Nonsense (Stand Comedy Club). Harriet Kemsley, the winner of the Funny’s Funny competition is one half of Kemsley and Callaghan: Keeping Their Cool (Laughing Horse @ The Newsroom) and Pat Cahill winner of last year’s AmusedMoose Laugh Off can be seen in The Tim and Pat Show (Cabaret Voltaire).

Some of the people behind last year’s award winning shows are returning for 2012. Writer Dave Florez who won awards and plaudits for his 2011 show Somewhere Beneath It All A Small Fire Burns Still, will be reunited with the star of that show Phil Nicol for The Intervention (Assembly Rooms). The play about alcoholism counts Jan Ravens, Arabella Weir and Mike McShane in its company. RashDash, whose ScaryGorgeous picked up prizes last year, return with The Ugly Sisters (C venues), a cabaret based on the story of Cinderella. NOLA (Underbelly) is a piece of documentary theatre about the BP Oil Spill told by Look Left Look Right who won awards for You Once Said Yes. Belt Up Theatre who won one of the inaugural Broadway Baby Bobby’s, return with their telling of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess (C venues).

With this year’s Fringe happening between the Olympic and Paralympic Games a number of participants have come to Edinburgh prepared. The world’s biggest burlesque club will see 2,000 people gather for Olympic themed fun at Club Noir Burlesque - The Games (HMV Picturehouse); Chariot: The Eric Liddell Story (Edinburgh Elim) tells the story of one of Scotland’s greatest Olympic athletes while Al Murray the Pub Landlord: The Guv’s Olympic Pub Quiz (Assembly George Square) promises to be the ultimate Olympic Pub Quiz. For children Jo Jingles Gets Fit for the Olympics (Craiglockhart Parish Church) promises a musical extravaganza. In Champion of Champions! (National Museum of Scotland) Scots storytelling duo Macastory will be hosting a mythological Olympic Games.

A number of the shows at this year’s Fringe are dealing with ageing and the body’s decay. In Mark Thomas: Bravo Figaro! (Traverse) the comic best known for his caustic, political comedy talks about his Alzheimer afflicted father’s love of opera; Kin (The Playhouse On The Fringe) has been called “a powerful meditation on the shifting dynamics that seep into relationships between middle-aged children and elderly parents”; Captain Koand the Planet Of Rice (Underbelly) promise to talk about time, memory loss and science fiction.

As always at the Fringe there’s plenty for younger audiences including the bona fide celebrities like Elmo, Cookie Monster and Big Bird in Sesame Street Live – Elmo Makes Music (Meadows Theatre Big Top). Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and His Singing Tiger (Assembly George Square) will see the surrealist take his debut children’s show to Edinburgh. Kids shows come to the Fringe from all over the world: The American High School Theatre present Dr Seuss I Love You (Church Hill Theatre), whilst Flamenco for Kids(C venues) promises to teach kids how to “Ole” with the best of them. Huggers – Free Festival Family Fun (Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters) is a cabaret and on the top of a double-decker bus. Shlomo’s Beatbox Adventure... For Kids! (Underbelly) sees the multi-award winning beatboxer find himself a new sidekick and Fringe favourite The Enormous Turnip (Spotlites @ The Merchants' Hall) is back for a tenth year.

As more and more media attention in Scotland is consumed by the forthcoming 2014 referendum there are a number of shows dealing with Scottish identity. Two of Scotland’s comedy perennials tackle the big questions in Vladimir McTavish and Keir McAllister Look at the State of Scotland (Stand Comedy Club). Glasvegas – The Original 1977 Musical (Zoo) tells the story of Scotland’s other city and Communicado’s Tam O’Shanter (Assembly Hall) brings together different pieces of Burns poetry to create a raucous piece of theatre.

I Shall Be Remembered - The Story of Madame de Pompadour (Venue 150 @ EICC) is one of a number of plays in which a woman best known for being behind the male lead comes to the fore and tells her own tale; Lady M (C venues) tells the story of arguably Shakespeare’s most interesting character. Whilst Miss Havisham's Expectations (Gilded Balloon) sees actress Di Sherlock explore the world’s most famous spinster in depth, Miriam Margolyes - Dickens' Women (Pleasance) sees the award winning actress explore 23 of Dickens’ female characters.

Shakespeare gets a lot of attention in 2012 and the Fringe has at least 45 productions that involve him in some way. It’s the 21st anniversary of Shakespeare For Breakfast (C venues); Under the Ladder (theSpace on North Bridge) is a behind scenes tale of Hamlet; The Merry Wives of Osaka (C venues) re-sets one of Shakespeare’s best known plays to Japan and Charlie Dupré Presents: The Stories of Shakey P (The Banshee Labyrinth) is a one man exploration of Shakespeare’s stories. Macbeth in Scots (St Ninian's Hall) changes Macbeth to the Scots language whilst Macbeth Unsexed! (C venues) will perform the play with a female cast. In ‘Beth (theSpace on Niddry St) Violet Shock have turned the Scottish Play into a rock musical. In Macbeth: Who Is That Bloodied Man (Old College Quad) Poland’sTeatr Biuro Podrozy will tell the story of the Scottish king in the same visually stunning way that won them the Fringe First in 1995.

Teatr Biuro Podrozy are back at the Fringe as part of the Cultural Olympiad’s Polish Showcase and have committed to perform their award winning Carmern Funebre (Old College Quad) as a one off for the first time in 16 years. The Cultural Olympiad have also supported showcases from France at Institut français d'Ecosse, Russia at Assembly Roxy and a South Africa season at Assembly Hall and Assembly George Square. This includes four of the Rainbow Nation’s most well known comedians discussing their experiences growing up in Barely Legal: The 18-Year-Old Democracy (Assembly Roxy).

In total there are 47 countries countries represented at the 2012 Fringe. Canada gives us Return of the Lumberjacks (Back by Poplar Demand) (Assembly Rooms) which reunites comics Glenn Wool, Stuart Francis and Craig Campbell after they first performed at the Fringe as the lumberjacks 15 years ago. Italian shows include Waiting For Godot sequel We Are Not Here (Summerhall) and Joseph (Dance Base), a live dance show using chatroulette and image manipulation.

Dancebase is also the home for the Indian show Kalari - Movement Art of the Warriors (Dance Base - National Centre for Dance) which will teach audiences the physical culture of ancient India.

As always there’s a wide range of music at the Fringe. Everything from The Big Fat Electric Ceilidh (Assembly Rooms) fusing traditional music and electronica to Mercury Prize nominated King Creosote (Queen’s Hall) who will be joined by Fence Collective Friends. Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells For Two (Assembly George Square) is a two man interpretation of the 1973 classic. Idlewild frontman Roddy Woomble (Acoustic Music Centre @ St Bride's) will be playing from his solo album. #Unravel Live: The Only Gig You Can Control With Your Phone (Queen’s Hall) is a collection of truly interactive sound installations and is the world premier from Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap and Edinburgh based FOUND.

The National Youth Orchestra of Iraq (Greyfriars Kirk) make their Edinburgh debut with an original concerto for oud written by Iraqi composer Khyam Allami and Scottish composer, Gordon McPherson. The orchestra formed in 2009by 17 year old Zuhal Sultanbrings together a mixture of self-taught Kurdish, Arab, Turkmen and Assyrian 16-29 year old musicians. For the concert, the orchestra will be joined by Julian Lloyd Webber and the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra.

Site specific pieces this year include Invisible People (around Edinburgh), a mixture of stories, jokes, poems or tricks performed by over 60s all over Edinburgh. Holly Rumble has two site specific shows in Edinburgh, and in of them she believes she has found the quietest place in Edinburgh, the sort of place where you literally could Hear a Pin Drop Here (Lauriston Halls). In One Minute Birdwatching (West Princes Street Gardens) Holly takes you speed-dating but with birds and binoculars. PEEP (Pleasance) will take place in a purpose built peep show hut in a car park. You’ll share the booth with 12 other people but you’ll never see them as you watch three new plays. The Shaman’s Dream (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art) promises a ritual celebrating life as well as animal masks and large balls of fire outside the gallery. Occupied (53 Frederick St Guest House) is one woman’s story about keeping yourself busy. Barry Ferns/Lionel Richie will be performing his solo stand up show every day in This Arthur's Seat Belongs to Lionel Richie (Summit of Arthur’s Seat).

Exhibitions at this year’s Fringe include everything from the iconic and well known Edvard Munch - Graphic Works from the Gundersen Collection (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art) to the exciting and brand new commissions One Thousand Points of Light (National Museum of Scotland). Cheer Up! It’s Not the End of the World… (Edinburgh Printmakers) has Apocolyptic prints from Jake and Dinos Chapman, Gordon Cheung, Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol.

In 2012, as in every other year, there are changes in the Fringe landscape. After being closed for a year for refurbishment theAssembly Rooms in George Street will reopen this summer under new management and has joined forces with the Famous Spiegeltent to create a new pedestrianised terrace on George Street.

theSpaceUKare growing this August. The Symposium Hall on Hill Square will join their other six venues in August to host a total of 267 shows. London’s Fourth Monkey are taking six shows to the Spaces including Elephant Man (theSpace on Niddry St) and Joe Orton’s The Erpingham Camp (theSpace on Niddry St). They also have comedy from a Vic & Bob sidekick and Fringe regular in Cirque du Charlie Chuck (SpaceCabaret @ 54) and the world premiere of a musical based on the awkward situations that house parties tend to throw up in Part A (theSpace @ Surgeons Hall).

C venues have moved operations to C NOVA in the India Buildings on Victoria Street. The Roxy Art House reopens under the stewardship of Assembly Theatre as Assembly Roxy. They’ll host a mixture of comedy and theatre and cabaret including New York alternative comedy star Kumail Nanjiani and Love All a new play about tennis and love.

Summerhall returns for second year with another eclectic programme. 30 Days To Edinburgh involves a spaceman, cowboy and disco dancer walking from Chichester to Edinburgh. There will be a one off special event on the day they arrive. It’s also the home for Fish and Game who will “edutain” the audience with tales of lesbian history in Strange Hungers.

The Alternative Fringe @ The Hive is being run by comedian Bob Slayer and will features Aaaaaaaaaaaaarghh! It’s the Greatest Show on Legs, Trevor Lock's Amateur Sex Tape Theory and Twonkeys Kingdom – Free.

The Shack will make its Edinburgh debut this year with ten comedians doing solo shows and Black Monday - The Longest Laugh All Day Gong Show which should last 12 hours. The Scottish Comedy Festival @ The Beehive Inn will see 16 shows from Scottish comedians including Pete Doherty’s warm up man Raymond Mearns - Rock'n'Roll Comedian.

The Old College Quad is the outdoor home to five shows from Poland including The Blind based on the Nobel prize winning José Saramago book Blindness where an unexplained epidemic of blindness causes social breakdown.

The BBC venue, BBC@Potterrow is back for a second year and will this year be in Edinburgh for the full three weeks of the Fringe. BBC Radio 1's Fun and Filth Cabaret will bereturning with them and will see Scott Mills and Nick Grimshaw hosting their pick of the Fringe’s comedy and cabaret. BBC Radio Three are joining the fun this year In Tune is broadcast live from the venue.

Sweet Venues return with their biggest capacity yet at the Apex Hotel in the Grassmarket. Their production of James and The Giant Peach has a cast entirely made up of teenage boys. Blind Date Ruined My Life is one man’s story of regret, loss and Cilla Black.

At this year’s Fringe there 814 free shows. Once again the vast majority of these shows come under the auspices of Peter Buckley Hill’s Free Fringe and the Laughing Horses Free Festival. Josie Long and Sam Schafer's Awkward Romance (Mood Nightclub) will be one of many acts on PBH’s Free Fringe and Lewis Schaffer: No YOU Shut Up! - Free (Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters) sees the acerbic funny man take his jokes to Laughing Horse.

The Virgin Money Streets - High Street and Mound Precinct will once again be the place to spot the world’s greatest street entertainers. In the olden days the running order would be stuck on a white board but now audience members with their QR reading enabled smart phones are able to see who’s on and when.

For the first time Fringe performers will be able to flyer potential audience members aurally. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society have teamed up with SoundCloud, the world’s leading social sound platformto allow performers to add audio to their listings on It could be a song, a joke, a story or a plea to try and entice prospective punters to buy a ticket.

Your Fringe programme comes in at 376 pages, weighs 605 grams and has a choice of Astrodog, Cyclocat, Gorrilloyd or the Colonel as your Fringe chum cover star. Each of the 2,695 shows inside is the result of hard work, determination and passion. There will definitely be a show in your programme at your Fringe that you will love. The parade to the world’s greatest cultural event has begun.

Fringe Facts 2012:

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012 features 42,096 performances of 2,695 shows in 279 venues.

  • Comedy makes up 36%
  • Theatre makes up 28%
  • Music makes up 13%
  • Musicals and Opera makes up 4%
  • Children’s Shows make up 4%
  • Dance & Physical Theatre makes up 4%
  • Events make up 4%
  • Cabaret makes up 4%
  • Spoken Word makes up 1%
  • Exhibitions make up 2%

An estimated 22,457 performers will take to the stage in Fringe 2012. There are 814 free shows, 1,418 world premieres and 47 different countries represented.

The recent Edinburgh Festivals Impact Study showed that the Fringe annually generates around £142 million for the Edinburgh and Scottish economy. The study also showed that 89% of Edinburgh respondents said that the Fringe and other Festivals increase local pride in their home city.

For further information contact the Fringe Media Office 0131 240 1919