Edinburgh councillor says she avoided city centre at Christmas because of the price of festive events

A councillor has told how she used to avoid the centre of Edinburgh around Christmas time because of the prices being charged as part of the city’s festive celebrations.

By Ian Swanson
Thursday, 16th June 2022, 5:21 pm

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Newly-elected Vicky Nicolson spoke out as the council’s finance and resources committee confirmed the award of the contracts for the winter festivals.

Angels Event Experience Limited have won the contract to produce Edinburgh’s Christmas and Unique Events Limited will produce Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. Both deals are for three years, with two optional 12-month extensions.

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Councillor Nicolson, elected for the SNP in Inverleith last month, asked about pricing and affordability and said she noted there had been consultation with families with young children and especially single parents.

She said: "It’s an area of interest for me, having been a single parent for many years and having avoided the city centre for a month out of every year around the Christmas period because it was unaffordable to people on a lower income. I would like a bit more information about the pricing structure if that’s possible.”

Senior events officer David Waddell said the pricing structure was not available yet, but affordability had been a key requirement for bids. "There was a general principle in there about increased accessibility, especially economic accessibility, for both events. That came out really loud and clear in the consultation and was included as one of the key guiding principles for both events. The events needed to be accessible both to families on lower incomes and to traders and stallholders in the city.”

Lib Dem councillor Neil Ross asked about compensation to the council for the impact events may have on council land. Mr Waddell said: “For parks and greenspaces, a bond is required before occupation of the site along with a rental fee. The bond is a kind of insurance that we have the money held by the council should remediation be required on any of the sites.”

Councillor Vicky Nicolson said she avoided Edinburgh's Christmas events because they were unaffordable. Image: Underbelly.

Both the Christmas and Hogmanay contracts were previously held by Underbelly, but Unique Events were the founders of the Hogmanay Festival 30 years ago and said they relished the opportunity to re-invigorate the events programme and take the festival forward.

Council leader Cammy Day said: “Edinburgh’s winter festivals are internationally renowned and as well as contributing to the wellbeing and enjoyment of our residents, our winter festivals deliver real economic impact, benefiting tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors in particular. We’re looking forward to delivering great Winter Festivals for the people of Edinburgh and our visitors – very much in the spirit of feedback received in our recent citywide conversation with residents, businesses and stakeholders. We want to continue to provide inclusive high-quality festive celebrations, further enhance the city’ “s reputation and allow the benefits to be shared across our town centres and communities.

"I am sure Angels Event activities will build on the huge success of Edinburgh’s Christmas to date and will offer a rich and varied programme of festive activities, events and experiences that will be enjoyed by residents and visitors of all ages.

"Unique Events will once more be the producers of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay having been involved when it began in 1992/93 and as we mark its 30th year I’m excited to work with them on a programme of events fit for the home of Hogmanay.”

Councillor Vicky Nicolson

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