This is what Edinburgh residents had to say when we visited the Corn Exchange beer garden

Pints are back as revellers have fun in the sun at Edinburgh’s largest beer garden

Monday, 6th July 2020, 5:58 pm
Updated Monday, 6th July 2020, 7:45 pm

It's been a long time in coming, but with life starting to return to normal – albeit a ‘new normal’ – beer gardens across the Capital were given the green light to reopen today (Monday, July 6).

Chief among them, and billing itself as 'Edinburgh's largest beer garden', Edinburgh's Corn Exchange was chock full of punters, having transformed the car park into a new space where people can not only enjoy a tipple or two, but also partake in games of darts, ping-pong and swing ball, and watch sport on a variety of screens.

After 105 days without going to the pub, it's hardly surprising that so many thirsty-looking locals made a beeline for the Corn Exchange. And, as thirsty folks do, they seemed to be making the most of this long-awaited opportunity to drink pints, shots and cocktails on what, mercifully, was a gloriously sunny day.

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A group of girls enjoy a drink in the sunshine at the socially-distanced Corn Exchange beer garden.

The Corn Exchange attracted an all-ages crowd, and everyone seemed to be behaving themselves as they had fun in the sun.

Speaking to the Evening News on arrival, managing director Paul Demarco praised the behaviour of those in attendance and said everyone looked like they were having a ball.

“It's been great," said Paul. “It's a really nice, chilled atmosphere and everyone is behaving sensibly and enjoying themselves.

“There was a few no-shows from bookings, but there's plenty of people here and we're expecting it to get a lot busier later on.”

Joe Afif, right, and Callum MacGruer, left, enjoy a drink at the Corn Exchange beer garden in Edinburgh.

Ahead of Monday's opening, the Corn Exchange promised revellers “a safe, healthy outdoor environment to enjoy a few drinks with your pals” – and that's exactly what was on offer at arguably one of the finest socially-distanced beer gardens in Auld Reekie.

Among those in attendance was NHS worker Callum MacGruer, 31, who was out celebrating the birth of his three-week-old son, Ross, with best buddy Joe Afif, 29.

“Working at the NHS these last few months has been so stressful – it's been a really trying time," said Callum. “So to be able to finally get out and have a beer with a friend is just amazing – an incredible sense of relief.

“Being here today brings back a sense of normality – and isn't it great that the weather is so nice.”

Mark Thomson, 36, from Sighthill, admitted that he'd been gagging for a proper pint for months – and he seemed to be having a blast.

“The beer tastes amazing - you just can't beat a proper pint,” he beamed. “This is so much better than being sat at home drinking out of cans on my own.”

Soaking up the sunshine with a cold pint of lager, Derek McArthur, 63, from Saughton, was another who was just glad to get out again after so many weeks spent in lockdown.

“It's just so nice to be out and about in the fresh air, enjoying the sunshine, the beer – and of course the human contact,” he said.

Lindsay Wright, 45, from Musselburgh, said she'd been counting the days until she could get out and about and enjoy a drink with friends.

“I was a little weary about coming into contact with people so soon, but the set up here is really safe. There's a good distance between the tables and everything is wiped down before you sit down.

“It's just lovely to be out again – and how lucky have we been with this weather!”

The free-to-enter beer garden at the Corn Exchange is open seven days a week, but with strict social distancing guidelines in place, there are limits on numbers at any one time.

Advanced table booking is required. You can book a table HERE and even pre-order your arrival drinks.

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