Let’s give the Christmas market a holiday this year - Kevin Buckle

When I said in a recent column that no doubt the Christmas market would soon feature I hadn’t realised how soon.
An Edinburgh Christmas market merchandise stallAn Edinburgh Christmas market merchandise stall
An Edinburgh Christmas market merchandise stall

News this week that German firm Angels Event Experience Ltd were pulling out of their contract to provide Edinburgh’s Christmas came as a surprise to everybody.

With record numbers already expected to be boosted even further by the cancellation of Glasgow’s Christmas market this year it was seen by many as a promising chance to move on from the various problems suffered in recent years.

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The same company runs Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and that appears to be going ahead so it is not clear

why it has now been decided that they can not fulfill the contract.

It will be interesting to see what financial penalty this decision triggers but clearly the company must have decided it was worth it. As the council now scrambles around to find an alternative provider Unique Events are very much in pole position and are already responsible for the New Year celebrations.

There have been rumours both from Glasgow and Edinburgh that there has been less interest than expected from potential stall holders though I find it hard to believe that those providing food and drink are hesitant.

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Given the relatively short time now to prepare it would make perfect sense to me to not have a market at all this year but provide all the rides and entertainment and then see if miraculously visitors find places to buy gifts and quench their thirst and hunger from those businesses already in the city centre and hopefully further afield.

Every year the argument is put forward by those who don’t have a business to run that local businesses should be given first opportunity on any temporary locations.

Every year they miss the point that these businesses already have high enough overheads thank you and need people to come to them rather than incur further costs chasing after customers.

I would bet, if any councillor would like to accept, that no family would go hungry while visiting Edinburgh for Christmas and nobody will ever have to wait long for a cup of coffee.

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There is talk of there being long queues but for instance when I visited the Christmas market last year the long queue was at the van near the Waverley Bridge gate selling churros while the place selling churros in Waverley Market a matter of yards away just had the odd customer.

One disgruntled businessman in the hospitality industry I spoke to recently said the problem was that the council had “too many charity workers, failed actors and retired librarians” and while I haven’t fact-checked that statement at all or considered how many is “too many” it does give an insight into how local businesses feel about the council.

Visitors will come to Edinburgh whether there is a Christmas market or not. Locals will come so long as there are rides and entertainment so I really don’t see the need for a market.

While it is not yet clear why the Angels Event Experience pulled out of their contract at such short notice the most popular theory is that they simply offered too much money and the financial implications have finally hit home.