Royal Mile festive show to boost Old Town business

Fringe favourites Frisky & Mannish join Santa at the launch of Edinburgh Christmas 2015. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Fringe favourites Frisky & Mannish join Santa at the launch of Edinburgh Christmas 2015. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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The Old Town looks set for a business boom as it hosts its first Christmas spectacular.

The city’s festive celebrations, previously confined to St Andrew Square and Princes Street Gardens, are this year expanding to the Royal Mile.

Marketing chiefs have forecast that tills – as well as sleigh bells – will be ringing when the Mile is transformed into a “Street of Light” from November 30 until Christmas Eve.

The free show will feature 16 arches of lights synchronised with recorded music from local choirs, and is expected to attract 250,000 visitors to the Royal Mile across the three weeks.

Craig Miller, general manager of nearby tourist attraction The Real Mary King’s Close, predicted that the light show would benefit local businesses including bars and shops.

He said: “It is incredibly exciting to have the Street of Light on the Royal Mile.

“We hope that the increased footfall generated by Christmas coming to the Old Town will have a positive effect on The Real Mary King’s Close and surrounding businesses.

“This 25-day event will no doubt encourage those who come to see the ‘Street of Light’ to explore and discover all that this historic and vibrant area has to offer.”

Speaking at the official launch of Edinburgh’s Christmas 2015 at The Hub on Castlehill – in an event which featured a performance by Fringe favourites Frisky & Mannish – Charlie Wood, of event organisers Underbelly, said that this year’s festive ­season celebrations promised to be the “biggest and brightest yet”.

John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said: “Edinburgh’s Christmas is now a landmark date in the calendar for local people and is firmly ingrained in the community.

“Continued investment and improvements have been made, such as this year’s expansion into the Old Town, that have ensured a bigger and better celebration year on year, all of which has planted Edinburgh’s Christmas firmly on the map as one of the biggest festive celebrations UK-wide.”

He continued: “With sell-out events like Limbo, Scotch and Soda and this year’s Circa coming to Edinburgh from global acclaim, we’ve seen an increase in interest from international visitors over the 
winter months, in addition to more inbound visitors from London and south-east England. I have no doubt this year’s jam-packed programme will further build on the success of previous years and I am confident that the upward trend in numbers will continue in 2015.”

Bill Cowan, of the Old Town Community Council, welcomed news of the Christmas festival’s expansion into the Royal Mile.

But he added: “These events are a big draw in themselves but the way to attract footfall is to have a better retail offering.”

john.connell@edinburghnews.com