Bringing down the curtain on Edinburgh in August

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener, reflects on another bumper summer for the Festivals.

“Watching the Festivals come to a close on Monday night, I found myself joining 12,000 others to gaze above Edinburgh Castle in awe. 

“One of the most magic moments every August is the Fireworks Concert. Its simple ability to be enjoyed by nearly everyone, of any age, background or language, makes it a fitting end to a phenomenal month where we welcome the world to the city. You could hear the international draw in the chattering voices around you. Spanish, French, Cantonese… not to mention every Scottish dialect you can think of.

“This week’s figures released by the International Festival show that around 53% of tickets were purchased by EH postcode holders, while over at the Fringe nearly half of the audience members were Scottish. A robust indication of how appealing the Festivals are to our citizens.

“I was also pleased to see all of the Festivals embrace even better access for audiences this summer. We saw 500,000 International Festival tickets provided free of charge to young people, seniors, those with disabilities and disadvantaged backgrounds. Sensory backpacks for people with autism, better wheelchair access to events on the High Street and more performances with British Sign Language interpretation were also introduced. Just some of the many positive steps the city is taking to ensure Edinburgh in August can be enjoyed by all.

“Yet, with their increased popularity, we know the Festivals need careful management. Planning and executing a major event in any city centre venue is a task. Successfully staging 1,000 events a day every day - above and below ground, indoors and out - for a combined audience of millions of people is something else entirely!

“Praise must be given to the many hundreds of Festival workers, Council officers and members of the Police and emergency services who spend many months planning all of August’s events, and ensured the city could keep moving while the Fringe and the Tattoo, the International, Book and Art Festivals ran smoothly.

“Early indications suggest even more people are taking part and attending, with around half of those people local to Scotland, and that the management of the events was a resounding success. We should remember the economic benefit of this success is enormous, at over £313m to Scotland.

“There is still work to be done, however, to bolster the efficiency of journeys around the city, further spread festival activity to communities outside the centre, and to address the impact of short-term accommodation which often causes issues for people who live here. The Council has taken steps to tackle these issues, and I’ve asked for a report to be brought to a future Committee meeting. This report will outline how well we are doing and what more we can do, for us as a Council but also for partners across the city.

“Until then, my thanks to everyone involved. I hope you enjoyed everything that was on offer.”

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