Let there be lights '“ and lasers '“ at Hogmanay tribute to 70th Festival

The 70th birthday celebrations of the Edinburgh Festival are to be heralded at the climax of the capital's Hogmanay festivities, organisers revealed today.

Sunday, 4th December 2016, 7:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 5:02 pm
The Scottish Government is ploughing an extra £90,000 to provide the curtain-raiser to the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh International Festival and Festival Fringe in 2017. Photograph: Steven Scott Taylor

Special effects designers are being brought in to create a one-off laser and light show which will coincide with the traditional fireworks display above Edinburgh Castle.

Organisers say the city’s most spectacular “midnight moment” in the 24-year history of the festivities will be staged above the historic landmark as 75,000 revellers throng the city centre.

An extra £90,000 is being ploughed into the capital’s celebrations from the Scottish Government to provide the curtain-raiser to the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh International Festival, the Fringe and the film festival in 2017.

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The three-day Hogmanay event will include one-off collaborations with a host of the city’s other festivals. Designers and technicians who worked on the recent Botanic Lights show in Edinburgh are joining forces with Titanium, the firm behind the Hogmanay fireworks, and festival producers Unique Events to create effects expected to be visible up to 30 miles away.

The aim is to create a “showcase of the drama of Edinburgh’s historic cityscape,” which will be broadcast to a global audience of more than a billion people.

It is expected to reflect the origins of the city’s annual cultural events in 1947 when an arts festival was instigated to provide “a platform for the flowering of the human spirit” in the wake of the Second World War.

Organisers of the Hogmanay festival say they aim to recall when “a beacon of enlightenment and creativity was lit, based on a profound belief in the power of culture to build international trust and understanding”.

The Hogmanay display will be the first in a series of special celebrations to mark the 70th birthday of festivals which attract a global audience of 4.5 million each year.

Unique Events director Al Thomson said: “As the final festival of 2016 and the first of 2017, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will bring in the New Year with an extra special midnight moment to launch the 70th anniversary year of Edinburgh as the world’s leading festival city.”

Collaborations with the city’s other major events include a jazz festival stage at the street party, a book festival talk with Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess ahead of his band’s street party appearance, a series of classic screenings at the Filmhouse, the home of the film festival, and a performance by Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Highland dancers before the annual torchlight procession, which opens the festival, heads off through the Old Town to Calton Hill.

A new three-day event for youngsters, Sprogmanay, will see workshops and activities staged by the art, science, storytelling and children’s festivals at the National Museum of Scotland.

Stephen Duncan, tourism director at Historic Environment Scotland, which runs the castle, said: “It has been the backdrop for some of the most memorable moments in Scottish history and this is equally true of its contemporary role – providing the stage for year round, world-class events and celebrations. It’s exciting that the castle, the most iconic of Scottish landmarks, will again help signal the start of the new year - a role made doubly special as we mark the 70th anniversary year of Edinburgh as a leading festival city.”

Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Scotland is the world-renowned home of Hogmanay and while there is a wide variety of exciting local Hogmanay celebrations up and down the country, the spectacular of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has the special addition of marking the start of Edinburgh Festival’s 70th anniversary in 2017.

“Edinburgh’s festivals contribute £313 million a year to the Scottish economy as a whole and their 70th anniversary is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate their valuable cultural influence.”