THE Great Yorkshire Fringe will return to York next year, expanded from ten days to 17, spread over three weekends from July 15 to 31.

The inaugural festival ran on a temporary village green in Parliament Street this summer in two spiegeltents and a third performance space and will again be focused on this city-centre thoroughfare but with "big, big names and extra venues too" in 2016.

Festival founder Martin Witts said today: "The first Great Yorkshire Fringe proved a hit with both residents and visitors to the city, with more than 120,000 people flocking to a festival of entertainment, music, cabaret, magic and theatre.

York Press:

Cheers! Al Murray, The Pub Landlord, raises a glass to the 2015 Great Yorkshire Fringe, where he played two shows

"Our weird, wise and wonderful festival was such a roaring success that it’s coming back next summer and we're promising to deliver the very best comedians, music and family entertainment from all over the world to the centre of York."

He will announce the first acts "very shortly", when tickets will go on sale. "We have some of the biggest names in comedy signed up and others that will be new to the region. We promise to deliver a non-stop cavalcade of laughs over the summer,” said Mr Witts, who encourages comedy enthusiasts to sign up to the online mailing list at "to be the first to hear" festival updates.

The 2015 Great Yorkshire Fringe brought smiles to York from July 24 to August 2, organised by festival director Mr Witts, who runs the Leicester Square Theatre and Museum of Comedy in London but has roots in York, where he once worked in the Theatre Royal's carpentry department.

Al Murray, The Pub Landlord, Paul Merton's Impro Chums, German stand-up Henning Wehn, Reginald D Hunter, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Mark Addy, a Margaret Thatcher drag act and a Free Fringe were among more than 130 shows in York's biggest arts festival since the 1988 York Festival.

The big names for 2016 remain under wraps but Mr Witts has confirmed the Great Yorkshire Fringe New Comedian of the Year competition will return. "Following in the footsteps of our highly successful, sold-out 2015 competition, the search is now on for our 2016 champion," he said. "We’re looking for the best up-and-coming comedians from Yorkshire and beyond to compete in daily heats throughout the Fringe, with a grand final on Sunday, July 31."

York Press:

Harrogate comedian Tom Taylor, winner of the 2015 Great Yorkshire Fringe New Comedian of the Year competition

This summer, 23-year-old Harrogate comedian Tom Taylor beat 74 fellow aspiring comics, emerging from eight daily heats to win the competition and he has since launched his Sitting Room Comedy night at the Monkbar Hotel in Monk Bar, York.