​The ups and downs of our crowded Christmas Market - Kevin Buckle

The sweet-toothed will find plenty of treats at the Edinburgh Christmas MarketThe sweet-toothed will find plenty of treats at the Edinburgh Christmas Market
The sweet-toothed will find plenty of treats at the Edinburgh Christmas Market
​​I don’t normally find time to walk through the Christmas Market this early in the year but my bus was cancelled during the week, so I took a walk through the market to the next stop in the West End.

I had actually done the same thing on the Saturday, but as I suspected the queue to get in meant I would not have had time but I still walked along Princes Street and it was chaos.

There was one young girl directing the queue on Waverley Bridge but once it turned the corner onto Princes Street people were left to fend for themselves.

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Initially there was an orderly queue but quite quickly it became unclear who was queueing and who was simply trying to make their way along.

I had to walk at the very edge of the pavement and was genuinely worried that if there had been any sort of surge I could have been pushed in front of a bus.

This continued all the way to the next opening in the middle of the market where there was actually a large queue to leave.

In previous years I remember being able to enter this way too but that was clearly not possible. However, there was a fair-sized queue of people waiting to get in even though there seemed no prospect of that happening.

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There was no signage to say whether it was an entrance or not and just a couple of security at the gate slowly letting people out and making sure nobody got in.

I appreciate that this is not a nightly occurrence, as a few days later I walked through without a problem, but as the market had just opened it was extremely predictable and the lack of crowd control was dangerous to say the least.

As in previous years when I did get to the West End and looked down on the rides there were very few people there. The area is described as a family area but I can only imagine it gets busier later in the night as otherwise the rides would be losing money.

When I did walk through the market was certainly smaller than previous years and the stalls were very predictable, though I didn’t see any mulled wine after previous scandals.

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What was very noticeable was that there was very little interest from the crowd in any of the stalls unless they were selling food.

This, of course, is the dilemma in that barely a week goes by these days without hearing that another restaurant or cafe is closing, but just when the crowds appear at the end of the year so much business is lost to pop-ups.

There is no doubt people do enjoy walking through the market while eating something but as more and more food places open on Princes Street in particular it is hard to justify the need for all the temporary food stalls when there are permanent places only yards away.

Once the cold weather bites people will at least seek refuge in the warmth of Waverley Market’s rebranded Food Station, taking heed of the Warm Up In Waverley Market campaign just launched.

For those other food places nearby though I imagine it will be another year of so close, yet so far.

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