Hogmanay’s Mr
Wright bows out

Barry Wright wrote Hogmanay large in Edinburgh. Picture: Greg Macvean

Barry Wright wrote Hogmanay large in Edinburgh. Picture: Greg Macvean

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ONE of the masterminds behind Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is stepping down after 20 years of putting on one of the world’s biggest New Year parties.

Barry Wright is calling it a day as the operations director of the event after overseeing a £30 million boost to Scotland’s economy.

The road does not end there for Mr Wright, as he will continue to organise outdoor concerts at Edinburgh Castle in his role as event consultant.

The 67-year-old’s business partnership with Pete Irvine spanned an incredible career which brought big-name bands and artists to the streets of the Capital.

Mr Wright has sold his stake in Unique Events – the company he has run with Mr Irvine since 1993 – to make way for another producer to fill his shoes.

The pair launched themselves into the concert world by staging shows at Tiffany’s in Stockbridge and organising a rock festival at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1978.

They founded Regular Music, Scotland’s first major concert production company, which brought the Glasgow’s Barrowlands back from the dead in 1984 and staged stadium gigs in Scotland for legends such as Prince and REM.

They also brought New York bands Blondie and the Ramones to Glasgow’s Apollo and gave Simple Minds the chance to raise the roof at Ibrox Stadium.

Before setting their sights on the Capital, the enterprising duo launched a Hogmanay party in Glasgow’s George Square to celebrate the city becoming the European City of Culture in 1990.

Their successful pitch to start a similar extravaganza in Edinburgh left Mr Wright amazed.

He said: “We produced a report for the city which basically said that Edinburgh had a fantastic venue and site.

“The city and Scotland was the home of Hogmanay, and we should own it.

“I never thought I’d be allowed to close Princes Street for a party.

“I’m always amazed that we were ever allowed to do it.”

But it went on to become one of the world’s biggest New Year parties, bringing tens of thousands of people to the Capital every year.

Mr Wright said the event’s later success was due to the can-do attitude of people in the Capital.

“It was really about changing the whole image of what New Year was about. There had actually been bills from the 1600s onwards banning any kind of celebration at Hogmanay,” he said.

“There was a very positive attitude from the city. Absolutely everyone bought into it. That is what made it so good – the police and council were onside.”

As well as being the Hogmanay party’s public face, Mr Wright also had overall responsibility for ensuring it proceeds without a hitch on the big night.