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Frenzied Edinburgh Festival Fringe grows again for 2013

By Ian MacKenzie

LONDON (Reuters) - The 2013 edition of the rambunctious Edinburgh Festival Fringe will have more actors, jugglers, comedians, musicians and street performers than ever carousing through the streets of the Scottish capital when it opens in August.

The Fringe, one of the world's greatest draws for aspiring and established live performers, said visitors will have the choice of more than 24,000 shows in theatres, bars, restaurants and in the streets during its three-week run from August 2.

It combines with the Edinburgh International Festival of the arts, the annual International Book Festival, the sell-out Royal Military Tattoo and city art galleries to make Edinburgh a global cultural focal point every August.

The overall festival process is also worth around 250 million pounds ($377.90 million) to the Scottish economy.

The Fringe is renowned for its comedy, theatre, song and dance. It said in its program launch that a vibrant musical mix had been added this year with artists from the worlds of jazz, classical, folk, electronic and experimental.

Edinburgh's streets are awash with visitors, buskers, magicians, clowns, impromptu theatricals, jugglers and other entertainers in a clamorous kaleidoscope of colors, sounds and people in outrageous costumes touting for audiences.

Overall, visitors from across the world can see some 2,871 shows this year - 2,695 last year - performed by 24,107 artists from 41 countries in 273 venues across Edinburgh, where visitors double the city's population in August to over a million.

Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Fringe Society, said the festival continued to "increase in size and dynamism". But she told Reuters she didn't think this was surprising.

"It's a very valuable place for a company or an artist to bring their works for the exposure it can give them, not just to a public audience, but to an industry audience, to the media and to their peers who come to Edinburgh from all over the world," she said.

Mainland said the festival had grown into one of the world's great international arts markets, with industry professionals, festival directors, producers and talent scouts looking for "the next generation of talent."

Mainland noted that in the past the Fringe had been a proving ground for many of Britain's top actors and comedians.

It started in 1947 as an offshoot to the International Festival of music, dance and drama founded as a counterbalance to the austerity in post-war Britain.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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