Six months to remember for so many reasons - Lord Provost Robert Aldridge

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With the festive season truly upon us, I wish to extend my heartfelt and warm wishes this Christmas to the citizens of Edinburgh.

As we near the end of 2022 and we all reflect on a remarkable year in the Capital, I too am reflecting on my first six months as Lord Provost.

It’s been my pleasure to meet and visit many fantastic people and organisations who go above and beyond to support fellow citizens. This year saw an enormous response to support people fleeing the war in Ukraine, and 10,000 people have been safely received through Edinburgh’s Welcome Hub. As they begin to settle and integrate into their new homes there continues to be a characteristically caring and generous response from the people of Edinburgh.

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In June, one of my first duties as Lord Provost and Lord Lieutenant was to lead Jubilee celebrations for HM The Queen and welcome her for Royal week in July. Sadly, just a few months later, Edinburgh was arguably the focus of the world in the days following her death. I’ve been reflecting with immense pride on our city’s contribution during this significant and historic time.

Whilst Edinburgh is no stranger to welcoming thousands of people throughout the year those few days in September were on a unique scale that hadn’t been seen before. Edinburgh demonstrated our appreciation, admiration and respect for The Queen, who loved Scotland and its capital city.

And now we’re in December and, I may be biased, but there’s no better place in the world to celebrate the festive season.

Edinburgh’s Christmas offering is already proving extremely popular with thousands of visitors and residents enjoying the Christmas Markets, Santa Land and the Lidl on Ice Experience. With EH postcode holders enjoying a 20 per cent discount, it is great to see so many local people enjoying the attractions this winter too.

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We can also look ahead to the return of Hogmanay celebrations. Our three-day Hogmanay programme included a Festival of Ceilidhs, family-friendly events such as Sprogmanay and a Candlelit Concert at St Giles’ Cathedral. There’s a Night Afore Disco Party with Sophie Ellis-Bextor, the world-famous Street Party with midnight moment fireworks and a showcase of Scottish musical talent in Final Fling and First Footin’ on New Year’s Day.

Of course, I also appreciate that this is a time of year which can be very hard for many people in our city, especially with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis – I would urge anyone with concerns to use our dedicated webpages for further advice.

We have also recently launched a network of Warm and Welcoming Spaces across the capital. Council venues such as libraries, community centres, museums and galleries, alongside partner and community spaces, will host free activities for all ages and provide a space where people feel safe, warm, and at ease. They can also access information to help alleviate food/fuel poverty and other support available to them.

As Lord Provost, I'm incredibly proud to represent our diverse and vibrant city. And as we all look ahead to 2023 and what it may bring us, I wish you a Merry Christmas and warm wishes for the new year.

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