Edinburgh’s Hogmanay: Organisers urge ticketless revellers to make alternative plans for the bells as sell-out is declared
Organisers have urged people to book into city centre businesses outside the main arena or seek out "alternative" vantage points for the city’s “midnight moment” fireworks display after selling 40,000 tickets for the main street party and concert.
The new producers of the festival have admitted they are being inundated with last-minute requests for tickets to the event, which is being headlined by the Pet Shop Boys, including from people who have pre-booked accommodation in the city.
They have said they do not regret bringing the event back with a reduced capacity for the first new year festival since the start of the Covid pandemic after other large-scale events were hit with lower-than-expected ticket sales when they returned in full scale earlier this year.
The capacity of the main celebration on Princes Street was capped at 30,000 for this year, roughly half the size of the event before the pandemic, with a further 10,000 snapped up for the open-air Concert in the Gardens.
The event arena will be slightly smaller, with tickets not required to gain access to Rose Street, Waverley Bridge, Waverley Market or the east end of Princes Street, past South St David Street.
The returning festival, which gets underway on Friday night in West Princes Street Gardens with a Night Afore Disco Party headlined by Sophie Ellis-Bextor, is being produced by a joint consortium involving Unique Events, the company which launched the event in 1993-4, and long-time Fringe promoters and venue operators Assembly.
Other events include a free afternoon of live music staged in venues across the city centre on New Year’s Day and a Final Fling gig in the gardens featuring Tide Lines, Elephant Sessions and Hamish Hawk.
Unique director Penny Dougherty said: “We always thought we would sell out the street party, but not as quickly and easily as we have done this year.
“Our box office is constantly getting enquiries from people from all over the place looking for tickets. We have sold absolutely everything that we can for Hogmanay.
“We would always prefer to say to people that they can still come to the event, so it is quite frustrating.
“A lot of the interest is coming from outwith the city, but a lot of it is from local people because of the buzz building up in the city.
“It is important to remember that there are plenty of businesses around the city centre who will be open. People can still go to them, come outside for that midnight moment, and have a great Hogmanay experience.
“If people don’t have tickets for the street party or the concert they should plan ahead and book into a pub, club or restaurant so that they definitely have somewhere to go.
“There are plenty of spaces available around Edinburgh. The city centre is going to be very busy so people are better going further afield to somewhere like the Meadows or Inverleith Park.”
Ms Dougherty said the reduced size of the street party arena and its capacity should make it easier to get across the city centre on Hogmanay as well as ease crowd congestion at the event.
She added: “We have really tried to make sure that people don’t have to move around the arena as much and have worked out the capacity based on the spaces that have a view of the fireworks. We are using the optimum spaces that everybody wants to be in on Hogmanay.
“By taking out the stages and having the arena full of a sound and light show everybody will be able to come in, find their spot early on and enjoy that midnight moment without moving from space to space.”
Unique director Alan Thomson said: “I still believe we made the right decision in being cautious in terms of what we were doing this year.
“We have seen other people go too big, too soon with large-scale events which have fallen foul due to lesser numbers.
“This year was about making sure that we would be comfortable in what we were doing. It’s done exactly as we would want it to do. We actually sold around half of our tickets within two weeks of them going on sale.
“We’ve been engaging with people who are looking to experience the event for months. We’re confident that the vast majority of people coming to the city have tickets for the events that they need.
“There are people who are still arriving who may not have tickets, but unfortunately sold out does mean sold out this year. You will still be able to watch the fireworks from across the city centre. If you can see the castle, you can see the fireworks.”
Assembly founder William Burdett-Coutts said: “I think it’s quite remarkable that the Hogmanay events have sold out, particularly when you remember it is three years since the last event was staged. It’s the one night that Edinburgh really is the capital of the world. When people think of new year they think of Edinburgh.”
Police Scotland Superintendent David Robertson said: “The street party is a ticketed event. If you don’t have one, you won’t be able to get in and won’t be able to enjoy your night. You should try to make alternative arrangements and come up with a different plan for the night.
“The most important thing for people who do have tickets is to try to plan ahead. There is a lot of information on the official website about how to get to and from the event safely, and how to look after yourself and other people you are coming with.”