Edinburgh’s Open Streets: Swing dance and hip hop performances planned on June 2nd

Residents and visitors will be dancing on the cobbled roads of the Old Town this weekend as the second Open Streets event promises a host of events for revellers.

Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 7:22 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 8:22 pm
Map showing the Open Streets closures. Pic: Edinburgh City Council

The second event, which takes place on Sunday from 12pm until 5pm, will include swing dance and hip hop performances, quiet havens for book worms as well as circus skills classes, walking tours and street games.

The 18-month pilot project will see streets including a large stretch of the Royal Mile, 
Cockburn Street and Victoria Street closed to traffic and handed over to pedestrians and cyclists for the afternoon. George IV Bridge, North Bridge and South Bridge will remain open as will access to the foot and head of the Royal Mile.

The city council hopes to gradually increase the number of streets that are included after a break during the summer months, and could eventually see a loop of the Old Town closed to traffic for the event – including Cowgate, the entire Grassmarket and Holyrood Road.

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Yoga on the Canongate. Pic: Greg Macvean

Transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, said: “What we achieved at the first event has not only had a massive positive reaction from people, not just inside Edinburgh, but it’s a very clear signal of intent.

“We have not done this as a one-off – we are doing it across an 18-month period that we are committing to. That allows us to build that evidence around what people are looking for, how people are reacting to it, the impact it is having in this specific area. All of those aspects of it, we need to build up knowledge on.”

Cllr Macinnes added: “Open Streets gave us a little window into what we could be looking for in terms of the city – I think that’s one of the reasons why we have had such a positive reaction. People have suddenly woken up  and realised this is a different way of looking at the city, this is a different way of being a part of it.

“It turns it into a much more human environment than anything else – that’s one of the real joys of it. It was a good 
illustration of what a large number of people are really yearning for which is a different way of experiencing the 
city.”

In the inaugural Open Streets event earlier this month, the event largely went to plan – although there were reports of a tour bus breaching the road closure. But council bosses did not receive complaints of large-scale problems with traffic displacement and loss of trade for businesses, as some had 
feared.

Cllr Macinnes said that support would remain to allow blue badge holders to access the Old Town, while businesses would continue to be supported.

She said: “We had trained our stewards to make sure anybody who had difficulty accessing could do so and we still had access for blue badge holders and taxis. We had all of that in place, but the perception was that we didn’t.

“The last thing we want to do is have a negative impact on the local economy. We don’t believe that will be the case but it’s something we will be keeping a very close eye on.”