SCOTLAND’S largest food and drink festival has been cancelled after suffering a washout last year when it was hit by heavy rain.
Two of the three days at Taste of Edinburgh, which has drawn crowds of up to 20,000, were axed when the Meadows site flooded last July.
Temporary roadways and walkways were brought in to try to rescue last year’s event after a warning of bad weather, only for drains in the area to flood.
Organisers told The Scotsman that Taste of Edinburgh was “no longer viable” and blamed a lack of support from public agencies for its demise.
It had originally received £100,000 from Edinburgh City Council, Scottish Enterprise and tourism bodies to get off the ground, but received only £6,000 per annum from the local authority in recent years.
However, Brand Events, the London firm behind the Taste Festival events – which are also held in Amsterdam, Auckland, Cape Town, Dubai, Melbourne and Milan – was recently bought over by global entertainment firm IMG for £5 million. The only Taste event planned to go ahead in the UK at present is in London.
Justin Clarke, chief executive of Brand Events, said: “The event is simply not viable in Edinburgh at the moment. It’s been a combination of things.
“We did initially get a fair amount of support from various public agencies, but that had dwindled away over the years.
“The abandonment after the first day last year did cause us a lot of problems and was very difficult to deal with. It’s really put us back four or five months.
“We were fully insured, but it took a long time to get everything sorted out and there were something like 40 companies that were due money.
“It was a very difficult decision not to go ahead this year, as we like to commit to somewhere when we launch an event, but this doesn’t mean we wouldn’t do another event in Edinburgh in future.”
The Edinburgh event was launched at the Meadows in 2007 after being successfully staged in London, Birmingham, Bath and Dublin.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jean-Christophe Novelli, Antony Worrall Thompson, Andrew Fairlie, Tom Kitchin and Nick Nairn were among the chefs to host masterclasses and workshops at the event over the years.
Steve Cardownie, the council’s festivals and events champion, said: “We were delighted to welcome the Taste Festival to Edinburgh in 2007 when it was still establishing itself on the world stage.
“It became a hugely popular fixture in our packed events calendar and it is disappointing that the weather took such a heavy toll last summer.
“We provided significant financial and other support to the festival throughout its five years here, and would have continued to do so had it stayed. We hope to be able to welcome it back to Edinburgh in future years.”
A separate event, Foodies, which has been held at Holyrood Park and Inverleith Park in Edinburgh in the last few years, will be going ahead at the latter venue during this year’s Fringe.
Foodies event director Sue Hitchens said: “We choose our sites carefully, making sure there’s good drainage, which I believe was the issue with Taste of Edinburgh at the Meadows.”