From just two events in 2007, Oxfringe has blossomed this year into a three-week festival, with over 160 shows taking place in more than 30 venues across the city and beyond. The Oxfringe mission has always been to encourage and support new and emerging artists, and an extraordinary variety of acts has always been a feature of the festival. Comedy, music, drama, literature, dance, cabaret and magic — you name it, Oxfringe has it.

“Anyone can have a show in Oxfringe, and put it on anywhere they like,” says director Sarah Jones, who started running the festival with Heather Dunmore in 2008. “With all the cuts that are happening in the arts, it’s really difficult for new artists to get on their feet, so the fringe festival is really helping people get off the starting blocks, try their shows out and gain confidence.”

This year, for the first time, Oxford also has experienced fringe artists from around the country, brought in by arts management company Underground Venues, which will be taking over the Old Fire Station for a week.

“Oxford falls very nicely before Edinburgh,“ explains Tom Crawshaw, one of the company’s founders. “So people will bring their shows here first, and get to work on them before they take them to Edinburgh. So Oxford will get a preview!”

One of the headline acts is comedian/poet John Hegley (above), who will be bringing his Edinburgh Fringe sell-out show Beyond Our Kennel to the Old Fire Station. Other events at the OFS include award-winning comedy drama Big Daddy Vs Giant Haystacks, and Trumpton Comes Alive!, an affectionate recreation of music from Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley.

If you fancy getting involved in Oxfringe, organisers are always on the look-out for volunteer stewards, ushers, box office staff, technicians and critics; just fill in a form on the website.

Oxfringe 2012 runs from May 30 to June 10. For full details, visit