St Andrew Square Fringe debut hailed

The cast of This is Ceilidh at the Spiegeltent. Picture: Alex Hewitt
The cast of This is Ceilidh at the Spiegeltent. Picture: Alex Hewitt
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ST ANDREW Square Garden’s debut as a Fringe hub in the heart of the New Town has been voted a major success after tens of thousands flocked to the area.

The garden has hosted the Famous Spiegeltent and comedy venue The Stand In The Square, as well as gourmet food outlets and two bars.

Latest figures from Essential Edinburgh, which represents city-centre businesses, show footfall at the east end of George Street, closest to the square, had almost doubled since last year and was much higher than the west end.

And Tommy Sheppard, ­director of Salt n Sauce Promotions, which has been running the garden, said up to 80,000 people had been to see shows there, not counting those who were just soaking up the atmosphere.

He said: “We’re delighted with what we have done in terms of the quality and the public reaction. We’ve been bowled over by the positive comments from punters and local businesses alike.

“It was brand new for this year, no-one had done it before and I think we’ve made a good fist of it. It feels like a different class compared to some of the other Fringe venues.”

A host of big names have been in the Capital once again, ­including ­comedian Frank Skinner, right, who is performing at the George Square Theatre.

Andy Neal, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, said footfall figures showed the east end near St Andrew Square had been noticeably busier than the west end over the past three weeks.

The number of people passing a fixed point at the east end of George Street was 97 per cent up on the same week last year.

He said: “There was a bigger set of activities outside the Assembly Rooms last year, so there has been a shift in where the activities are and the footfall followed.

“We have had a huge positive feedback about the way St Andrew Square looked and everything was laid out – people said it was very tasteful and recognised the setting it was in.”

Figures for the city centre as a whole – including Old and New Towns, Leith Walk and the West End – showed footfall down on wet days and up on sunny days. In the first week – which coincided with the Commonwealth Games – ­footfall was roughly the same as last year, the second week it was down 7.2 per cent and the third week up 4.5 per cent.

Josh Miller, chairman of the George Street Association, said the general feeling was it had been a success.

“You have the entertainment and the hospitality, but then you also have the rest of the square to sit down and relax in,” he said.