Fringe World, one of the biggest hits on Perth's entertainment calendar last year, kicks off again this month with a monster program one-and-a-half times bigger than its debut in 2012.

Encompassing hundreds of shows by thousands of performers, the expanded program, which starts on January 25, sees the return of hit acts from the international fringe circuit such as the Briefs, Strut and Fret and the Wau Wau Sisters plus edgy newcomers from overseas.

But local artists aren't losing out - about 70 per cent of the performers are homegrown acts.

Local writer-performer Will O'Mahony, whose show The Improved opens at the Blue Room Theatre, is among those given the chance to spread their wings during the four-week festival.

"The spirit of Fringe is that it gives artists a real opportunity to be braver with their work and for audiences to be braver too," he said.

"People tend to stretch themselves to things they might not normally do - there is no better time to be an audience member in WA."

Although the program of cabaret, circus, theatre, music and comedy is impressive enough on its own, this year the venues are an attraction in their own right.

Arguably Fringe World's most popular venue - the De Parel Spiegeltent - will be joined by another handmade pavilion of mirrors, _The West Australian _Idolize Spiegeltent, and 10 new pop-up venues including historic circus tents and a carousel island bar have been flown from the Netherlands.

Big tops, shop spaces, rooftops, bars, courtyards and laneways will also host acts.

"People have really been inspired by venues that perhaps lie dormant the rest of the year," O'Mahony said.

While the Perth Cultural Centre remains the hub, the Fringe will also reach key suburbs, with events and performances in Mt Lawley, Leederville, Maylands, Subiaco and Fremantle.

With tickets averaging less than $20 and more than 60 free events, organisers are hope audiences will "binge on the Fringe".

The West Australian

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