YORK is to host a ten-day comedy festival as part of plans to emulate the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe in Yorkshire.

From July 24 to August 2 next year the city’s streets will become performance spaces for nationally recognised comedians as part of the Great Yorkshire Fringe.

The event is scheduled to start two weeks before the Edinburgh Fringe, with organisers hoping to attract artists as they warm up for the Scottish spectacle.

The Great Yorkshire Fringe has been organised by Martin Witts, who reopened London’s Leicester Square Theatre in 2008, and founded the Museum Of Comedy in London earlier this year.

Having worked as a carpenter and stage hand at York Theatre Royal between 1983 and 1985, Mr Witts said he is delighted to be bringing the event to his home city of York, where he still lives.

He said: “The festival will be a great reason for people to visit the beautiful city of York and its many attractions, whether to take in a show or simply soak up the atmosphere and visit some of the great places to eat and drink.

“With the success of this year’s Grand Départ and last year’s Mystery Plays, York has proved itself as a destination city, and offer much more charm for an event like this than some of the bigger cities.

With acts due to be announced in November, the festival will also feature a Yorkshire tent in a bid to promote local comedy talent.

The event has been welcomed by tourism agency Visit York. Chief executive Kate McMullen said: “We are delighted to hear of plans for a new comedy festival, which will be an exciting addition to York’s festival programme next summer.

“It will encourage seasoned comedy festival goers to experience York’s varied offering of heritage and culture.”

Also welcoming a ten day comedy festival in York is Toby Jones, who runs The Hyena Lounge Comedy Club in the city.

He said: “York is very well served with comedy venues at the moment with the Barbican making a name for itself as a big venue, and the Opera House welcoming more comedy back, coupled with smaller venues and groups such as us doing weekly events as well as touring shows.

“As a result there’s a real appetite for comedy here, and a to have our own festival will be absolutely brilliant.

“From what I can see from the early plans it will be superb, and if York attracts just ten per cent of what Edinburgh attracts is going to be a fantastic event.