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In a year in which it really does pay to be in London, the Camden Fringe launches its seventh annual assault on the cultural senses, with a jam-packed programme of comedy, theatre, cabaret and music, sometimes all at the same time, and on the same stage.

“There are so many great festivals now, it’s difficult to stand out,” Fringe co-director Michelle Flower says.

“But Camden is a great place to have a festival – it’s a real hive of creativity and is an interesting borough that includes lots of different people and areas: from leafy Highgate to the edge of the West End.”

The festival’s line-up this year lives up to its diverse surrounds, thanks to what Flower calls “a very open policy”. Anyone can apply and CFF now allows acts to find their own venues. This means there are shows in unusual locations, such as the Jewish Museum (Much Ado About Noshing, Aug 5).

As well as the regulation pubs and theatres, other venues making their Fringe influence felt are The Forge, a concert house designed for sublime acoustics, and The Pirate Castle, a venue that serves as a base for all sorts of activities, from canal boat hire, cayaking and canoeing as well as, of course, cultural performances.

“The big random factor this year is the Olympics, which they unwisely decided to run up against the start of the Camden Fringe,” Flower jokes.

“We can’t predict what effect this might have, but each year, as word about the Fringe spreads and the companies that have grown with us return, the festival gets better and better.”

Kicking off in 2006 with just one venue, the Etcetera Theatre, and 57 artists and performers, the CFF has now blossomed in to a veritable feast of goings on, with 16 venues and no fewer than 126 different productions.

With so many shows to choose from, Flower is unfazed about competition from the other Fringe festival taking place north of the border during August, though, nor the sporting events going on in London.

In fact, she’s more concerned about people not knowing what to see, so to help festival-goers out, we’ve picked her brain for the acts she’s itching to unleash on the public

“Get Over It Productions have been stalwarts of the Fringe for many years,” Flower recommends.

“Usually they do Shakespeare adaptations, but this year they are doing a modern play called Deathline [a dark comedy about second chances, the afterlife and fallen angels], and I also really like the look of War Of The Wales, all about the disintegration of Charles and Diana’s marriage.”

So, if the Games gets too much for you, and you have enough of watching sports you have never played or followed before, then get to Camden Town, and take your pick.

You are guaranteed to be surprised and entertained in equal measure.

Click here for more fringe and stage events

Camden Fringe. July 30-August 26  
Various venues 
Tube |Camden Town

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