New events are set to be created for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay to woo more locals to take part in festivities which are now worth almost £40 million to the city’s economy.
Different parts of the city are set to become part of the three-day programme for the first time as part of a strategy to get more families involved as well as appeal to an older demographic.
Organisers say they want to try to persuade people to return to the festivities for the first time in years. They want to tackle a perception amongst a section of the public in Edinburgh that the Hogmanay street party was “an event that you just stood around at until the fireworks happened.”
Promoters Underbelly, who took over the staging of the celebrations last year, have pledged to add “extra layers” to the festival to try to attract a more diverse audience.
The firm has set out plans for a charm offensive after new figures revealed that Edinburgh is responsible for just 17 per cent of ticket sales for the festival, which was first staged in 1993-45. Well over half its audience is aged between 16 and 34, with just 12 per cent aged 55 and over.
Underbelly ordered a radical makeover of the street party last year, instigating a 7pm start time, two hours earlier than previously, bringing in dozens of performers to entertain the crowds on Princes Street, and extending the duration of the midnight fireworks display.
New research has revealed that 165,994 people from 80 countries attended last year’s festivities, which were said to have been rated as “good or very good” by 85 per cent of attendees surveyed.
Although this year’s programme is not due to be unveiled until September, Underbelly has hinted that major changes are on the way.
Director Ed Mr Bartlam said: “We’re going to have more content in the street party this year. The animation of it with street performers worked really well. We’ve brought the same team back together for this year. I think we got a lot of people back to the street party last year, but we want to do a lot more.
“But I also think there is a slightly older demographic that feels the street party is just not for them. So it may be about offering more events for them in the three-day programme. It’s not just about the international visitors coming to Edinburgh for the event. It’s all about further engagement, taking the components of what we’ve done already and making them better, and probably adding new events, perhaps in a new part of the city. We’ve got lots of ideas.”
Wall runners, trapeze artists, fire throwers, giant puppets ceilidh dancers, choir singers and DJs were deployed across the 60,000-capacity arena.
Fellow director Charlie Wood added: “I think there is still a sense among some sections of the city that the street party had become an event that you stood around at until the fireworks happened. For us, the fireworks are the cherry on the cake of Hogmanay. But the cake is the most important part. We want engagement in the event to be much broader and deeper.
“We don’t Hogmanay to just be about watching something, we want it to be about taking part in something, and telling stories about great Edinburgh is at Hogmanay.
“Last year we ensured that from when the event started at 7.30pm right until well after the bells was make sure that there was always something to see and do. We want to add extra layers to the programme and make it a more rich and diverse programme for audiences across the spectrum. We also want to make sure that as close to midnight as we can there is a celebration for families.
“We want to target as broad a spectrum of people as possible, whether that is from Edinburgh, from around Scotland and from overseas. It’s a party and we want as many people as possible to be part of it.”
Donald Wilson, the city council’s culture leader, said: “We’ve been involved in Edinburgh’s Hogmanay since 1993 and we’re proud to support this important event, both financially and operationally. I’m already looking forward to bringing in the bells when we enter 2019.”