Edinburgh Festival Fringe audiences to 'leap into unknown'

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Edinburgh Fringe launch
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Audiences are also being urged to "leap into the unknown" and make new discoveries at this year's festival

Singer Jason Donovan, Pussy Riot, Hi-de-Hi! star Su Pollard and broadcaster Esther Rantzen are to appear at this year's Edinburgh Fringe.

Children's TV will also be celebrated with a tribute to Blue Peter featuring former presenters.

Lee Ridley, fresh from winning Britain's Got Talent as Lost Voice Guy, will return to where it all began.

Audiences are also being urged to "leap into the unknown" and make new discoveries at this years festival.

The 2018 programme, launched on Wednesday, features 3,548 shows - up from 3,398 last year - covering theatre, dance, circus, physical theatre, comedy and music.

Festival chiefs say there will be something for all tastes and interests, with cabaret and variety performances, children's shows, free events and exhibitions in the programme.

Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, said: "This year's programme contains an eclectic mix of creative endeavour from across the globe that will move, challenge and, of course, entertain.

"This year we are encouraging everyone who comes to the Fringe to take a leap into the unknown.

"Whether this is your first or your 50th time visiting the Fringe as a performer or audience member, this is a place where new discoveries wait around every corner."

Themes at this year's festival include the First World War centenary, healthcare as the NHS marks its 70th anniversary, sex and consent as the #MeToo movement continues, disability, our lives online and faith.

The shows on offer include "theatre-circus spectacular" Cirque Berserk! featuring more than 30 acrobats, aerialists, dancers, jugglers, drummers and stuntmen and women who will be performing at Pleasance at EICC, Lennox Theatre, from August 3-26.

Also in the programme are the shows Trump the Musical and Mandela Celebration, a South African musical extravaganza of traditional music, jazz and township big bands, honouring the life of Nelson Mandela.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Made in Scotland showcase, which celebrates the best of Scottish-made theatre, music and dance with 23 shows.

There will be a new look for the Virgin Money Street Events arena on the Royal Mile, featuring new stages and performance areas.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "The Fringe continues to innovate, inspire, challenge and delight audiences, providing Scottish artists the opportunity to showcase their work on a renowned platform to industry professionals from across the globe. "

Performers from 55 countries will put on shows across 317 venues at this year's festival, which runs from 3 to 27 August.

Donald Wilson, culture and communities convener at City of Edinburgh Council, said: "It is impossible to imagine Edinburgh without its festival offering each year; all the razzmatazz and colour on the Royal Mile and general buzz and excitement that the Fringe and other summer festivals bring to our city every summer."

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