Here's to our volunteers: Culture Convener blogs

Edinburgh's Culture and Communities Convener, Councillor Donald Wilson, on Edinburgh's world-famous Hogmanay. This article first appeared in the Edinburgh Evening News.

The lights are up, the Big Wheel is spinning and the city centre is teeming in the countdown to Christmas! 

The fact that Edinburgh’s shops, hotels and restaurants are so bustling is thanks in no small part to the continued success of Edinburgh’s Christmas, which just last week pipped London, Bath and Manchester to the post of being named Best Christmas Market in the UK.

Produced by Underbelly on behalf of the Council for the enjoyment of residents and visitors, and with a special 20% discount for EH post-code holders, it is great to see so many local people enjoying the attractions this winter too.

Next week, the festivities will continue with our annual three-day Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. Providing a spectacular send-off for the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh as a Festival City, while blazing a trail for the Year of Young People 2018, the events will begin with the Torchlight Procession when we’ll all find out which one word sums up Edinburgh to our young people.

The event acts as the touch-paper for the three-day Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations. A donation from each torch will go towards the OneCity Trust, which fights exclusion in the city, and people from all over the world will descend to experience our internationally-famous Festival. The fact there will be a great many volunteers waiting to greet them with a warm Scottish welcome should be applauded.

As the city’s Lord Provost for five years and Volunteering Ambassador, I had the honour of meeting and getting to know hundreds of volunteers. No two reasons for deciding to help at an event are the same, and no two volunteering opportunities are either. From wanting to do something completely different to enjoying the camaraderie and social side of volunteering, the feedback we’ve received from Underbelly is that this scheme has received strong interest from people of all ages and interests. 

Now, as Culture Convener, I want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to every single volunteer – the Hogmanay-makers and everyone who gave their time for our Festivals in 2017 – for opting to help their communities. 

Looking to the future, I will be interested in hearing from everyone involved to ensure the opportunities for volunteers are as strong as they should be. The need for clear guidelines is of course an ongoing and complex national debate, but it is certainly a debate worth having to protect our fantastic volunteers and festival organisers alike from criticism.

Have a fantastic time in Edinburgh this Christmas, and a very happy Hogmanay.

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