Grassmarket show aims to light up sales figures

The Grassmarket Hotel is illuminated during a test run for the scheme. Picture: Craig Robertson
The Grassmarket Hotel is illuminated during a test run for the scheme. Picture: Craig Robertson
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FALLING snowflakes, moving Christmas trees and a series of snowy scenes will be projected on to buildings within the Grassmarket as part of a drive to lure festive shoppers back into the historic district.

The market square will be transformed into an Old Town winter wonderland to encourage revellers to look beyond the popular city centre attractions that form part of the official Edinburgh’s Christmas festival. It comes as footfall figures reveal the number of people visiting the Grassmarket has plunged 14 per cent on last November.

Georgia Artus, project manager for Greater Grassmarket – which represents a string of local businesses – has commissioned the spectacle as an alternative to the attractions on Princes Street and St Andrew Square.

“We’re looking to provide a quirky, more creative alternative that suits the nature of the Grassmarket and will attract Christmas shoppers,” she said.

“The building we’ve chosen is The Grassmarket Hotel and the projection will bring it to life and turn it into a winter wonderland.

“Edinburgh’s Christmas is great but we have seen a reduction in footfall when it’s on so this is about showing people there are other areas with lots going on.”

Around 2.6 million people are said to have visited the attractions and entertainment at last year’s Edinburgh’s 
Wonderland.

Kevin Buckle, owner of Avalanche Records, based in the Grassmarket, said the historic district had been overshadowed by the huge Christmas festival in the city centre.

He said: “It really was dreadful last year.

“I remember looking out the week before Christmas and seeing six people and a dog and they weren’t even going in the shops.

“I’m not criticising anyone for trying [to draw more shoppers in] but a set of moving lights aren’t very much compared to what is going on in the city centre.”

It is understood Underbelly, organiser of Edinburgh’s Christmas, had discussed launching a new arm of the festival in the Grassmarket but the move collapsed.

Bill Cowan, chair of Old Town Community Council, said he hoped the light show would encourage more shoppers to visit.

“I’m still slightly sceptical about how these things might improve business but it can’t hurt,” he said.

“I’ve seen them used at other times of the year at other carnivals in other countries and they are definitely very effective, especially when you have an ancient monument to project them on to. It’s certainly more cost effective than stringing up lights as they’re expensive to buy and cost a lot to put up and take down.”

Organisers Mclcreate and Edinburgh Arts Collective Projector Club will host the 3D lights on the corner of Victoria Street and the Grassmarket on December 11, 12 and 18.

Businesses will also unveil dazzling Christmas trees outside their shops to add to the festive spectacle.

kate.pickles@edinburghnews.com