Hogmanay bosses reveal plans for additional events

Early evening fireworks and a family-friendly concert will be staged in Edinburgh for the first time on Hogmanay as part of a major expansion of its winter festivals under new organisers.

Saturday, 10th June 2017, 8:59 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th June 2017, 2:46 pm
The Hogmanay celebrations take place with thousands of people celebrating the New Year
The Hogmanay celebrations take place with thousands of people celebrating the New Year

They will continue for an extra three weeks until Burns Night for the first time as part a bid to raise the global profile of Edinburgh in the face of mounting competition.

A major new free outdoor event, which is expected to generate spectacular images of the city, will run from New Year’s Day to Burns Night on January 25.

The 25th Hogmanay festivities will get under way four hours earlier than previous years with a 45-minute music and fireworks show beneath Edinburgh Castle.

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Princes Street Hogmanay celebrations. Pic: Ian Georgeson

Pyrotechnics will be seen from across the city, while around 3500 ticket-holders will be admitted to the Ross Bandstand arena for the new “Bairns Afore” event, due to start at 5pm.

Fringe promoters Underbelly have vowed to “expand and enhance” the Hogmanay festival, including an overhaul of its torchlight procession on December 30 and a “reboot” of its street party, despite a significant funding cut for the event.

But they insist they will not hike ticket prices to pay for the expansion and say pop-up bars on Princes Street and St Andrew Square would be dismantled as normal in early January. Underbelly, who organise the annual Pride Festival in London, have also revealed that they want to turn the Edinburgh event into more of a “carnival”, claiming the city needed to step up efforts to compete with the likes of Sydney, Paris, London, New York and Dubai.

Directors Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, the two London impresarios who have been staging Fringe shows in Edinburgh for 17 years, said they were not content to maintain the “status quo” for Hogmanay in the face of the mounting challenges overseas.

Princes Street Hogmanay celebrations. Pic: Ian Georgeson

Unveiling their first plans for Hogmanay festival ahead of an official launch next month, Mr Wood and Mr Bartlam said there was no question of the event being “diminished” and pledged that new sponsors were being brought in to help expand the event in their first year.

They also revealed that they were planning to use their involvement in around 10 other UK events to reduce the costs involved in staging the Hogmanay festival.

Mr Wood said: “We believe Hogmanay should not just be a three-day event.

“One of our ambitions is to extend the reach of Hogmanay into January a bit more. The new outdoor event will get people out and about around the city.

“We’re going to use the infrastructure that is already in place for the Concert in the Gardens for Bairns Afore, which will be specifically designed for families and young people, which will culminate in a proper, substantial fireworks display for five or six minutes.

“It will mean people will be able to go out with their kids and they can have a ‘midnight moment’ a lot earlier.

“The additional funding that we need this year is going to come from one or two different commercial partners.

“As we’re working across all these different festivals we’re in a unique position in Edinburgh in that we can spread our costs and overheads over different events.”

Mr Bartlam said: “January becomes a really dark, quiet month in Edinburgh after Hogmanay.

“We’re keen to explore having cultural entertainment to the city for a longer period of time after Hogmanay, which will be good for locals, tourists and businesses, for the city and Scotland.

“We’re not about to programme hundreds of events under the Hogmanay banner until January 25.

“We have a particular idea for this year that we feel deserves to have a longer life than those two or three days over Hogmanay.

“People will see when we unveil our plans in July that the Hogmanay event, far from being diminished, is going to be grown and expanded, both in terms of scale and quality. We can say that with total confidence. We’re not going to increase ticket prices.

“We have a real desire to keep them in line with what they’ve been.”