Bumper Easter weekend for Edinburgh attractions

Mara, eight, and Ona Noguera, four, paint eggs at the Royal Botanic Garden. Picture: Greg Macvean
Mara, eight, and Ona Noguera, four, paint eggs at the Royal Botanic Garden. Picture: Greg Macvean
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TOP city visitor attractions have defied predictions of an Easter holiday washout to record a bumper weekend.

Staff at The Real Mary King’s Close – a warren of underground streets off the Royal Mile – enjoyed their busiest weekend since it opened more than a decade ago.

They put on extra tours to cope with demand that saw visitor numbers reach levels that were almost as high as during the Fringe.

Other attractions, including Deep Sea World and the Royal Botanic Garden, also smashed records from previous years.

Alison McKay, duty manager at The Real Mary King’s Close, said: “We have been sold out for the whole week and we have been selling out days in advance.

“It has been our busiest Easter ever. Last year we had a very quiet week but this time around we have done massively well.

“We are having to put on extra tours to cope with such a huge volume of interest. We have had two extra tours in the morning plus an extra Spanish tour [for Spanish speakers] in the evening.

“This is lovely practice to get used to the volume of interest before the Festival. And the number of people we have seen through the doors is almost on a par with what we typically see during the Festival.”

Adrian Duffy, general manager of Deep Sea World at North Queensferry, revealed that families flocked to see the sharks feed and enjoy the antics of a diving Easter bunny.

Visitor numbers on Saturday were up 27 per cent on the previous year, he said. And yesterday’s figures marked a 40 per cent rise on 2015.

Thousands of people braved the weather to enjoy the Botanics, with 4645 visitors on Good Friday compared with last year’s 2579.

People were also given the chance to experience the source of chocolate treats enjoyed at Easter – the cocoa tree.

Fiona Inches, weekend duty garden manger for the Botanics, said: “It has been great having so many people out and about and enjoying the garden and glasshouses. On Friday we relished the glorious sunshine but even on Sunday it was particularly lovely that rain-soaked visitors stayed on to hunt for the golden Easter egg.”

She added: “The John Hope Gateway visitor centre has been buzzing with folk wanting to decorate their boiled eggs in the Real Life Science room, and the exhibitions have been attracting good numbers.”

Children from across Pennywell had a visit from the Easter bunny, as a group of under-fives took part in a special hunt for chocolate eggs hidden throughout the North Edinburgh Arts Centre garden.

The event was arranged by Urban Union – the company behind the Pennywell housing development – to help residents celebrate the holiday weekend in style.

Organisers said the hunt was the result of a partnership between Urban Union and North Edinburgh Arts as part of a commitment to regenerating and supporting a sense of community among young families in the area.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com