Steve Cardownie: Festival city has more to come

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The Virgin Money Fireworks Concert brought the 67th Edinburgh International Festival, and the summer festivals, to a spectacular close on Sunday night.

Once again, we find ourselves reflecting on Edinburgh’s biggest and best summer festival season yet.

The numbers speak for themselves. More than 2200 artists from 36 nations, almost 800 of them from Scotland, performed in the Festival. Ticket sales rose 17,000, or 11 per cent, to 158,500. The Fringe, meanwhile, came to an end after 45,464 performances of 2871 shows, making it the largest arts festival in the world. Just shy of two million tickets were issued for shows and events in 273 venues.

The Book Festival celebrated its 30th anniversary with a rise in ticket sales of almost six per cent to around 225,000, while the Tattoo sold out for the 15th year in a row. And lest we forget the Mela – despite the windy weather affecting Sunday’s programme, Saturday was its most successful yet, with 13,000 people attending.

This has all led to an inescapable feel-good factor around the Capital – helped in no small part by the sunshine. And, if the city centre streets felt busier, that’s because they were. At the peak of the festivals, average city centre footfall was up almost 20 per cent on the same period last year.

The animation of George Street was an undoubted success, with feedback from residents, festival-goers and, crucially, local businesses generally very positive. While this was only a trial, and there are definitely improvements to be made, this could prove to be a blueprint – spreading the wealth of the festivals between the Old and the New Towns.

A big thank-you is due to the many individuals and organisations who worked so hard to ensure that the festivals were such a success. This time of year is vitally important to the city, not just because of the money it generates for the economy but also for the cultural enrichment it brings. But, of course, there are 11 other months in the year and still much more to look forward to.

The city’s fifth Festival of Sport continues until Sunday, with the second SkyRide taking place in Holyrood Park on Saturday. I would encourage you sign up. I joined Sir Chris Hoy at last year’s event and had a great family day out on the bike.

Next month, from October 18-27, we host the Scottish International Storytelling Festival in venues in and around the Old Town with a theme this year of “once upon a journey”. In late November, we have a Christmas programme to savour, followed by our world-famous Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, featuring headliners, the Pet Shop Boys.

What better way to say farewell to yet another fantastic year in Edinburgh, the world’s festival city?

Councillor Steve Cardownie is the city’s festivals and events champion