Ticket sales at Edinburgh's Christmas festival more than double in five years

Ticket sales for Edinburgh's main winter festival have more than doubled in the space of five years, according to new figures.

Wednesday, 10th January 2018, 6:00 am
The Star Flier is one of the major attractions of Edinburgh's Christmas festival. Picture: Toby Williams

Organisers have revealed that three quarters of a million tickets were sold for events in the city’s official Christmas programme for the first time.

Several new additions to the line-up of the six-week festival are thought to have helped boost sales by 13 per cent in the space of 12 months alone

The winter festival was run for the fifth year in a year by promoters Underbelly, who sold 387,462 tickets in the first year of its contract in 2013.

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A record 781,520 tickets were sold for events in the most recent festival, with footfall figures believed to be up by at least 25 per cent over the same period.

A new “frozen museum” attraction on George Street, an 80 metre tall “drop tower” which was visible across the city and the first ever festive run for hit Fringe cabaret show La Clique were all added to the programme this year.

The facade of General Register House, a prominent landmark at the corner of Princes Street and the Bridges, was turned into a giant advent calender during the festival.

Underbelly won permission to turn St Andrew Square garden into a temporary ice rink for the Christmas festival, despite a controversial ban on Fringe shows being staged there last summer.

The company, who won the right to stage the city’s Hogmanay festival for the first time this year, said nearly 150,000 local residents took advantage of a 20 per cent discount on tickets - up around nine per cent on the previous event.

Underbelly has extended the winter festival until Burns Night on 25 January for a project which is telling a new short story by Val McDermid through state-of-the-art projections onto prominent buildings and landmarks throughout the city.

Underbelly directors Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood said: “We’ve had another bumper year with record tickets sales and more locals than ever engaging in Edinburgh’s Christmas. In our fifth year of producing the event, we were delighted to introduce some great new attractions, most especially the ‘Ice Adventure,’ which transported visitors into an historical and mythical Scottish winter wonderland.”

Edinburgh was given a huge boost in the run-up to Christmas when the city was named the best destination in the UK for a festive visit thanks to its range of attractions.

Frank Ross, the city’s Lord Provost, said: “Edinburgh’s Christmas was a real showstopper, with more tickets sold than ever before, a welcome rise in the number of Edinburgh 
residents enjoying their local discount, and people from 47 countries flying in to experience the city’s rides, attractions and everything the city has to offer.

“Edinburgh’s Christmas certainly remains one of the UK’s favourite winter destinations. These figures prove the festival continues to attract record numbers of visitors and supports footfall to the city centre - providing a welcome boost to our local economy while bringing everyone together to enjoy Edinburgh in winter.”

Roddy Smith, chief executive “Edinburgh’s Christmas celebration is recognised throughout the world as making Scotland’s capital the place to be at this time of year, driving footfall, trade and opportunities for our retail and hospitality sectors at this vital trading time.”