IT was billed as the city’s newest and most exciting festive market, boasting a funfair and thousands of magical gifts.
But the Christmas Lapland Market at the Royal Highland Centre has been dubbed “Crapland” by angry traders, who claim they were “misled” over the event, which also includes drive-in screenings of festive films.
Citing “inadequate” facilities such as poor lighting and a pokey unheated marquee, furious stallholders said it was the opposite of the winter wonderland they had been promised.
And they mounted a protest yesterday outside the site to demand a refund.
Some sported placards which read ‘We are not Muppets – Give us our money back’ – a reference to The Muppet Christmas Carol showing on the drive-in movies screen.
Police were called after reports of a disturbance, but no action was taken.
Not only has our Christmas been ruined but it has repercussions beyond Christmas. We are small traders who have invested everything.Pauline Sinclair
Pauline Sinclair, who organised the protest, set up the Facebook page Edinburgh Drive-In Movies & “Crapland” Market to give disgruntled visitors and stallholders a platform for their frustrations.
She said: “We were promised a spectacular drive-in movie with a huge Lapland-themed Christmas market catering for up to 50,000 visitors.
“But what we got was got was a pokey marquee which was a fraction of the size needed to host 50 stalls. There was no lighting at all and no heating.
“There was no funfair, no food stalls, poor signage and no festive decorations. There were also concerns over health and safety.”
Alarm bells started ringing when traders arrived on site last Thursday to find that nothing had been set up for the following day’s scheduled opening.
Organisers were unavailable for comment but issued a statement through their Facebook page, which read: “We would like to clarify that traders will receive refunds for stall space within 14 days.
“There were health and safety concerns expressed by traders, alongside other individual concerns, that ultimately led to the cancellation of the market.
“Council health and safety officers visited and were satisfied that there were no concerns. The police also attended and were satisfied that there was no danger.
“There have been concerns expressed about the lighting and toilet facilities. Additional lighting has been installed in response. The toilet facilities meet standards for an event with as many people as would attend each screening.”
Ms Sinclair has been refunded £240 for her pitch, but estimated she had spent up to £800 on stock.
She said: “Not only has our Christmas been ruined but it has repercussions beyond Christmas. We are small traders who have invested everything.
“We now have to salvage something from our business. We have nothing else booked so we haven’t been able to earn elsewhere. We have been left three days before Christmas with dead stock. The whole thing has been a farce.”
She also said that the Royal Highland Centre had questions to answer amid reports of similar failings by the same organisers elsewhere in the country.
But a spokeswoman for the Centre stressed it had not organised the drive-in event, adding: “We had no involvement in the contractual relationship between the organiser and exhibitors and therefore cannot comment except to say that we have been assured by the organiser that full refunds will be provided.”