Fantastic winter festivals culture proves a success - Val Walker

​Over the past seven weeks we’ve been treated to an incredible programme of events and experiences with the full and welcome return of Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay – once again shining a light on our wonderful capital city.
Councillor Val WalkerCouncillor Val Walker
Councillor Val Walker

The 30th anniversary edition of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay certainly lived up to expectations, with Pulp delivering a spectacular headline performance that will echo through the years.

Alongside the revamped Torchlight Procession, Night Afore Disco, Street Party, the First Footin’ and much more we hosted 95,000 people across our fantastic four-day programme.

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I’m looking forward to seeing the full review with total visitor numbers and economic impact for our city. However, the initial indications are that these have provided a welcome boost for the city’s economy.

New figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) revealed that footfall in Edinburgh increased by 6.4 per cent in December compared to the same period the year before. The Capital was the only city in Scotland to register an increase and was the top performing city in the UK. This bucked a national trend with overall Scottish footfall falling by 2.2 per cent and the UK average decreasing by 5%. Edinburgh’s ‘attractive Christmas markets’ have been identified by commentators as contributing to these figures. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay alone also brings in over £48m annually to our city’s economy.

At the markets there were over 80 independent stallholders, two-thirds of which came from Scotland and almost half were Edinburgh-based businesses. We’re committed that our residents and businesses are able to enjoy the many benefits of our Winter Festivals.

So, there can be no doubt as to the economic benefit our Winter Festivals bring to the city but we’re absolutely clear that all of Edinburgh should get a chance to join in these celebrations. I’m pleased that over 120 community groups and charities have been gifted over 6 000 tickets and tokens to attractions at Edinburgh’s Christmas or provided with discounts to the Ice Rink and Big Wheel. This has included both large and small charities and community groups, ranging from Four Square, Deaf Action, The Action Group, Barnardo’s, Whizz Kids and Sight Scotland to community and youth groups in Muirhouse, Pilton, Drylaw, Corstorphine and beyond. Going forward we’re committed to spreading the celebrations further out with the city centre.

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We’ve been working hard over the past few years in making our Winter Festivals more balanced, sustainable, and inclusive for residents and visitors alike. In 2021 we undertook an extensive consultation on the future of the Winter Festivals. This showed that there was overwhelming support amongst respondents with 86 per cent saying that they should continue.

We also agreed to look at spreading the celebrations more widely across the city centre, increasing community benefits, sustainability and accessibility as part of the recommendations.

I believe that we have made good progress on these commitments this year and I’m also encouraged to hear from residents who have enjoyed themselves these past seven weeks.

We’ll continue to listen to their feedback and work with our producers to make sure our Winter Festivals remain a key part of the city’s social, cultural, and economic calendar. I can’t wait to see what future editions bring.

Wishing you all the best for a healthy and happy 2024.

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