German market traders who have been coming to Edinburgh every Christmas for more than a decade claim that have been frozen out by new organisers intent on making the family event too “commercial”.
All but a few of the 33 stallholders that have traditionally flown across from Germany to sell trinkets and food at the foot of The Mound each winter will be missing this year, with many instead heading for Alnwick in Northumberland where they will team up with former organising firm She’s Gott It!.
The traders claim they have been priced out of town with operating fees soaring by around 50 per cent under the first year of a new partnership between Edinburgh firm Unique Events and Underbelly.
Glass engraver Peggy Jane Pauli, a representative of the German Market traders, said she felt the Christmas festival was “losing its spirit”.
The trader, who has been coming to Edinburgh every year since 2000, said: “We wish that we could go on in Edinburgh, but [organisers] increase the prices so much I could not. It’s not a German market any more. It’s totally different. We are very, very upset about it.
“It’s losing a lot of spirit – it is getting more commercial.”
Local traders, meanwhile, have claimed they are also being pushed out of the festival, with many saying they were told all the available spaces had been booked.
An Edinburgh-based stallholder, who did not want to be named, said almost all of the long-running Christmas food traders he knew had been told they were not wanted.
He said: “As soon as I found out who was in charge – on the day I was told who was doing the contract – I applied and got told I was too late.”
This year’s offering has been branded as a “European” market. Angel Events, which runs the Christmas markets in Hyde Park, has been sub-contracted by Underbelly to organise the selection of stalls.
An Underbelly spokesman said there would be 138 stalls running at the festival from November 22 to January 5, with a 26-stall Scottish Market.
The spokesman said: “Unfortunately, this year many proposals did not fit in with the profile that we envisage for this new and exciting addition to Edinburgh’s Christmas and were not offered a pitch.”
City culture convener Cllr Richard Lewis said: “We are confident that Underbelly, now responsible for delivering this element of the event, have introduced a robust allocation process and that the offer will be appropriately varied and of the highest standard.”
£65,000 for St Andrew’s Day bash
THOUSANDS of pounds in Scottish Government funds will be spent on a event at the Grassmarket to celebrate St Andrew’s Day.
An open-air ceilidh, food and drink offerings and storytelling activities for children are taking place on November 30. The St Andrew’s Day bash is a new feature of this year’s Christmas festival schedule managed by Unique Events and Underbelly.
A total of £65,000 will go towards the inaugural celebrations from an overall spending pool
of £350,000 to cover winter events across Scotland.
Edinburgh’s traditional Hogmanay celebrations, including Musselburgh’s Hogmanay in the Honest Toun programme, will also receive funding.