Edinburgh’s big wheel just got bigger. From today, anyone with a good head for heights can climb aboard and enjoy an unrivalled vista of the Capital and over the Forth to Fife from a higher vantage point than before.
The Edinburgh Festival Wheel, erected in East Princes Street Gardens over the weekend, stands 44 metres tall – a full four metres taller than the big wheel last summer.
Organisers M&D’s said it was the largest panoramic wheel ever to grace the streets of Edinburgh and gave “an added dimension of fun” to the city at Festival time.
They said amid the hectic rush of the annual extravaganza, the wheel’s 27 gondolas, which rotate a full 360 degrees, offered “a little bit of culture at a leisurely pace”.
And Edinburgh residents are being offered a special 20 per cent discount on the standard ticket price.
Anyone with an EH postcode qualifies for the discount – they will be asked for a driving licence, bus pass or utility bill as proof of address.
The wheel also has a screen in the middle of it, which will show adverts promoting Edinburgh’s festivals.
And the gondolas are each fitted with individual sound systems giving visitors information about what’s on in the city.
M&D’s, who run the famous amusement park in Motherwell, won the contract from the city council to run the big wheel this summer.
Part of the agreement means a percentage of the profits after a certain threshold will be returned to the council to help pay for improvements in Princes Street Gardens.
Douglas Taylor, M&D’s head of operations for the Edinburgh Festival Wheel, said: “We are delighted to be operating the Edinburgh Festival Wheel this year.
“This year’s wheel is one of the largest self-supporting wheels around and is ultra-lightweight considering its size.
“There is always a fantastic atmosphere during the Festival and we are sure that the Edinburgh Festival Wheel will add another dimension of fun.”
Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s festivals and events champion, said: “The Edinburgh Festival Wheel will offer spectacular views of the city this summer. I’m sure it will prove very popular with both visitors and residents and it is great news that a 20 per cent discount is available to all Edinburgh citizens.
“I am also delighted that monies raised will support future improvements to Princes Street Gardens, allowing everyone to continue to enjoy this unique green space in the heart of the city centre.”
The wheel is open from today until Sunday, September 6, from 10am to 10pm daily.
It follows the huge success of the Festival Wheel set up on the same site last year for the first time, after plans to establish a permanent big wheel towards the West End of Princes Street Gardens had to be scrapped due to difficulties moving the giant structure into place.
Tickets are priced at £8 per person or £6 for children aged 14 and under, over-60s and concession card holders, with a £25 family ticket available for four people (including a maximum of two adults and a minimum of one adult). Advance tickets can be bought online at www.edinburghfestivalwheel.com or at the ticket booth situated at the ride itself.