Ferris wheel plan in motion for Grassmarket Christmas

Last year's Christmas celebrations in the Grassmarket. Picture: Craig Robertson

Last year's Christmas celebrations in the Grassmarket. Picture: Craig Robertson

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A 49ft-HIGH Ferris wheel, swing boats and a “vintage” chair-o-plane carousel will be erected in the Grassmarket under plans to extend the Capital’s Christmas festivities throughout the Old Town.

If approved, the bid from M&D’s Events, which is working with counterparts at Greater Grassmarket Business Improvement District (BID), would also see Victorian stalls, games and catering units provided from December 5 until January 2.

The proposals – subject to a licensing application due for discussion by councillors today – have been slammed by residents leaders over noise and disturbance fears.

However, organisers said the plan had been designed to minimise disruption and boost footfall.

The blueprints come in the wake of plans for a Street of Light, featuring an installation of more than 60,000 bulbs, which will stretch from the City Chambers to Tron Kirk.

Residents said the scale of the proposed Grassmarket event was much bigger than the weekly Christmas craft stalls held in previous years.

Bill Cowan, chairman of Old Town Community Council, said: “This will take up the whole Grassmarket – I can tell you that the residents in the Grassmarket, quite a number of them, very much object to such a large event taking place in their front yard.

“It will be very jolly but would you want it in your front garden? The point here is that there’s a balance to be struck. Of course, in the city centre, you’re going to get traffic, noise and pubs, but these have increased.

“Go back 20 or 30 years and the Grassmarket was a nice, quiet place to come and live in. It’s no longer the nice, quiet place it used to be. Residents are saying they are fed up.”

But M&D’s chiefs said proposals for their “Victorian Christmas event” had been put together with nearby communities in mind.

A spokeswoman said: “We have worked closely with the BID team to ensure that we selected rides in keeping with the Victorian theme which would attract families to the Grassmarket area throughout the festive season, while causing as little disruption as possible to local residents.”

Greater Grassmarket BID said the event would generate extra custom for businesses in the area.

Georgia Artus, project manager, said: “We have worked closely with M&D’s Events on the specifications for this family event to ensure that the Grassmarket is being used responsibly this Christmas.

“We have chosen activities which reflect the area’s heritage and provide our traders with increased daytime footfall during the festive season, which has been a huge issue in previous years.”

johnpaul.holden@edinburghnews.com