City puts money on horses to pull in festive punters

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Horse-and-carriage rides along Princes Street have been unveiled as part of a programme of events to draw crowds back to the city centre once tram works are removed from the street.

The finishing touches are being put to the road surface on Edinburgh’s main shopping thoroughfare this week ahead of it reopening to the public as a newly-pedestrianised space from the early hours of Thursday morning.

And the city council today published the full programme of events and activities that will be held on the Capital’s most popular shopping street.

The extra events – which also include snowsports and a chance to meet Scotland rugby internationals – have been paid for by a £445,000 fund set aside by the council, and are designed to try to attract more shoppers into the city centre in the run-up to Christmas. They have been broadly welcomed by business leaders – although some concerns have been raised about all the money being spent on Princes Street alone.

Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, the city’s transport leader, said: “Edinburgh is always a special place to be during the festive season, and this year will be no different.

“As part of our wider business support package, worth £445,000, the council and partners are organising various activities and initiatives which will draw people into the city centre.”

The events will take place on the half of the newly re-layed road nearest to Princes Street Gardens, with the side of the road closest to the shops being kept clear for possible use by emergency vehicles.

The horse-and-carriage rides, which will cost £5 for adults and £2.50 for children, will be available in the three-day run-up to Christmas Day and also on November 26 and 27.

A pen of reindeer, including four adults and a calf, will also be based on Princes Street from December 15-18 and December 21-23, while a Snowsports Festival featuring real snow and a series of slopes will be held on the street on the weekend of December 17 and 18.

And Scotland internationals from the Edinburgh Rugby side will take part in a “come and try” session on the last Friday before Christmas.

A series of markets, fayres, street cafes and theatre performances will also be held throughout the four-week run-up to Christmas.

Andy Neal, chief executive of business group Essential Edinburgh, said: “I am pleased that a full package has been pulled together for the animation of Princes Street whilst it is effectively pedestrianised for Christmas and Hogmanay.”

However, Gordon Henderson, development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses in the east of Scotland, said: “The Princes Street festival is fantastic but what about the west end? What is happening with Leith Walk and what is happening with the rest of the city centre? It is not just all about Princes Street.”