What’s actually new at this year’s Fringe?
Gilded Balloon Teviot

Thud. That’s the sound of the Fringe programme landing. But what’s new?

Let’s get the annual stats out of the way first: 50,266 performances of 3,269 shows from 48 countries in 294 venues.

For the first time, that’s actually slightly DOWN on the previous year, but it’s safe to say there’s still a fair amount of choice for culture vultures in the Scottish capital this August.

So the Fringe is still massive. We know that. But what’s new for 2016?

The Edinburgh Digital Entertainment Festival

This new event, taking place at the Assembly Rooms, is certainly intriguing:

“A celebration of the intersection of new technology and arts entertainment, offering audiences the chance to experience enhanced performance, storytelling and film through VR, games, digital theatre, event cinema and live to digital events and performances.”

Given the increasing reputation of Edinburgh’s tech scene, this is sure to go down well.

The Fringe foodie experience

For those who can’t make it through an hour of theatre without some grub, Scottish spirit producers Arbikie Highland Estate are joining up with Mackenzies Catering to offer sit-down meals accompanied by an eclectic range of live music at Merchant’s Hall.

So you can satisfy your ears and taste buds simultaneously.

A new Fringe hub in Leith

While the Fringe has made a few inroads down Leith Walk in recent years, traditionally Irvine Welsh’s hood has been a luvvie-free zone during August.

But that could change. New venue the Leith Depot on Leith Walk is going to be hosting music and theatre in its upstairs space. That sounds great to us, but what would Begbie think?

Other new bar-based venues this year include Dragonfly, Sabor, T-Bar, Stramash, and The Jinglin’ Geordie (which becomes Pleasance Pop-Up: The Pub).

Nights at the Museum

Edinburgh locals have enjoyed various Museum Lates at the National Museum of Scotland in recent years, but in 2016 the refurbished space is getting properly involved in the Fringe for the first time.

National Museum of Scotland Edinburgh

Gilded Balloon will be using the prestigious venue for a range of theatre and comedy, including seven shows by Rory Bremner.

A debut for a controversial comedian

Canadian comedian Mike Ward is among the Fringe debutants this year.

Mike Ward

He prompted a debate around freedom of speech among stand-ups when he was taken to court by the parents of Jérémy Gabriel, a disabled boy with Treacher Collins syndrome, who Ward ridiculed on stage. They’re seeking $80,000 in damages, with a verdict due in August – right about when Ward will be in Edinburgh.

Aptly, he’ll be talking about all of this in a show titled Freedom of Speech Isn’t Free.

Of course, there’s plenty more to discover at the Fringe. Head over to edfringe.com for the programme