Sleep in the Park named Edinburgh’s best cultural event

Chris Hoy addresses the crowd last December. Picture: Jeff Holmes
Chris Hoy addresses the crowd last December. Picture: Jeff Holmes
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A mass sleep-out in Princes Street Gardens which raised £4 million to tackle homelessness, and was backed by Sir Bob Geldof, Liam Gallagher, John Cleese, Deacon Blue and Frightened Rabbit, has been named Edinburgh’s best cultural event.

More than 8000 people brave sub-zero temperatures to take part in the first Sleep in the Park event last December, which was recognised in the country’s flagship tourism awards.

The event, instigated by the social enterprise and sandwich shop chain Social Bite, will go forward to VisitScotland’s national Thistle Awards final after being recognised in the regional ceremony at the Prestonfield House Hotel.

Social Bite founder Josh Littlejohn – who billed Sleep in the Park Scotland’s answer to Live Aid – will next month expand the event to Aberdeen, Glasgow and Dundee, as well as a return to Princes Street Gardens.

It is hoped 12,000 participants will sign up for the second Sleep in the Park, which will see Scottish singing stars Amy Macdonald and KT Tunstall flying around the country in a helicopter to perform in each city.

Other acts lined up by Littlejohn and Sleep in the Park producers Unique Events for next month include Eddi Reader, Lulu, Kyle Falconer, Irvine Welsh, Kathryn Joseph and Withered Hand.

The first event helped pay for 500 homes to be made available to homeless people and rough sleepers, 160 jobs being offered and 35 spare rooms being made available throughout the country.

Social Bite has also opened Scotland’s first “homeless village” in Granton, in north Edinburgh, since last year’s event.

The homeless village was developed on vacant land in Granton and is made up of 10 two-bedroom houses. The houses were built off-site before being erected in Granton ahead of the residents moving in this summer.

Mr Littlejohn said: “To win this award for our debut Sleep in the Park fundraiser is an incredible achievement.

“I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Unique Events for all of their hard work and dedication in executing such a memorable event.

“Not only did Sleep in the Park bring together thousands of people for one single cause, but the money raised has allowed us to make significant steps towards ending homelessness in this country.”

Other winners at the ceremony included a city-wide tourism campaign to tell the history of Edinburgh in 101 objects, which was recognised with a working together for tourism award.