Edinburgh Christmas festival extended to Old Town

Santa is joined by Australian performing group Briefs to help launch Edinburgh's Christmas. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Santa is joined by Australian performing group Briefs to help launch Edinburgh's Christmas. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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ORGANISERS of the Capital’s Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations say they want to extend the festive fun to the Old Town.

They are finalising plans to bring the Royal Mile and the Grassmarket into the heart of the seasonal action this year – and say the event could spread further in future.

Event organisers Underbelly took over responsibility for Edinburgh’s Christmas for the first time last year and were praised for improving the quality of the programme and increasing the numbers coming into the city centre.

A total of 2.6 million people visited the attractions and entertainment on the two key sites at East Princes Street Gardens and St Andrew Square.

This year’s programme – officially unveiled yesterday – again focuses on the two sites, but Underbelly’s Charlie Wood said they also wanted to have events in the Old Town.

He said details would be unveiled soon, but made clear the Royal Mile and the Grassmarket would be key areas in the plans.

He said: “Footfall in the Grassmarket is less in December than in February. We need to bring some of those 2.6 million people who passed through our two sites at St Andrew Square and East Princes Street Gardens to the Old Town.

“We need to do more to support businesses in the Old Town.”

Mr Wood also hinted at even bigger ambitions.

He said: “In some places in mainland Europe, Christmas takes over the whole city and all the different communities come out and do 
something.”

The Evening News revealed yesterday how Underbelly had responded to public criticism last year about the high cost of some of the attractions, particularly for families, by introducing special cut-price family tickets and a 20 per cent residents’ discount for people with an EH postcode, as well as cutting the prices of many of the attractions.

City council festival and events champion Steve Cardownie praised Underbelly for the high standard of last year’s event.

He said: “This year’s event, I’m sure, will be even better.

“I know lessons have been learned from last year and things have been put in train to make it an even better experience not only for visitors but for Edinburgh citizens as 
well.”