Susan Doherty: A head of steam builds at Grassmarket

Grassmarket traders have their sights set high. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Grassmarket traders have their sights set high. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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I fell in love with the Old Town as soon as I arrived in Edinburgh and I’m lucky enough to now spend most of my days there.

The best thing about the area is the authentic nature of the businesses and the support they give to each other.

With unique places like Godiva Boutique, Black Box Boutique, Mary’s Milk Bar and Analogue Books to mention a few, there really is no need to venture anywhere else. We’ve always needed the right kind of events programme to attract more visitors in to discover our area, and 2014 hopes to deliver it.

The Greater Grassmarket area is more than the beautiful main square at the foot of the Castle, although our Castle view alone is breathtaking. Each street has its individual characteristics, from the bijou galleries of Candlemaker Row to the bookshops and boutiques of West Port, the restaurants and, of course, Greyfriars Bobby on George IV to the independent shops of Victoria Street. Not to mention the stunning views from Victoria Terrace and West Bow.

The Greater Grassmarket’s Business Improvement District has only been going for a year, but its events programme for 2014 is already pretty extensive. There will be fashion-themed activities from March into April, including many local boutiques and retailers. We’re already looking forward to the Mad Hatter’s tea party at the Greater Grassmarket Saturday Market on March 1. Don a hat and come along.

Other plans for 2014 include events tying in with some of the city’s well known and well-loved festivals such as the Jazz Festival and the Fringe Festival. On behalf of more than 200 local businesses, including my own, the Greater Grassmarket hopes to harness the opportunity the events provide, whether they last a day, a weekend or a whole week.

The planned outdoor film screenings, music and dance and historical events will be fantastic, and the Greater Grassmarket is working closely with Essential Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh Council and other partners to develop these and other unique events. For example, the team is considering bringing vintage cars to the area, hosting a spa event as part of the popular Spa in the City weekend on May 24 and 25 and providing inspiration for kids’ holiday activities.

Alongside the events there are other projects on the go relating to business savings, cleanliness and promotion, with local businesses feeding in their own ideas at our regular brainstorming events and via social media and the new website – 2014 promises to see many of these local business ideas coming to fruition in exciting ways and the area moving forward with great strides.

The Greater Grassmarket runs a lively website. For more information on what’s coming up there and for news of exclusive competitions and promotions please visit www.greatergrassmarket.co.uk.

• Susan Doherty is the owner of Hula Juice Bar and Gallery