We loved Edinburgh in August

The City's Festivals & Events Champion, Cllr Steve Cardownie, looks back on another bumper month of summer festivities...


The Virgin Money Fireworks Concert brought the 67th Edinburgh International Festival to a spectacular close on Sunday night.

Once again, we find ourselves reflecting on Edinburgh’s biggest and best summer festival season yet. And that isn’t a throw-away comment; the numbers speak for themselves.

Over 2,200 artists from 36 nations, almost 800 of them from Scotland, performed in the International Festival with ticket sales up 17,000, or 11%, to 158,500. The Fringe, meanwhile, came to an end after 45,464 performances of 2,871 shows, making it the largest ever arts festival in the world. Just shy of two million tickets were issued for shows and events in 273 venues.

The Book Festival celebrated its 30th anniversary with a hike of almost 6% in ticket sales to around 225,000, while the Tattoo sold out for the fifteenth year in a row. And lest we forget the Mela – despite the windy weather affecting Sunday’s programme, Saturday was their most successful ever with 13,000 people attending.

This has all led to an inescapable feel-good factor around the Capital – helped in no small part by the sunshine. And, if the city centre streets felt busier, that’s because they were. At the peak of the festivals, average city centre footfall was up almost 20% on the same period last year.

The animation of George Street was an undoubted success, with feedback from residents, festival-goers and, crucially, local businesses generally very positive.  While this was only a trial, and there are definitely improvements to be made, this could prove to be the blueprint for future years – spreading the wealth of the Festivals between Edinburgh's Old and New Towns.

A big thank you is undoubtedly due to the many individuals and organisations who worked so hard to ensure that the Festivals were such a success. This time of year is vitally important to the City, not just because of the money it generates for the local economy but also for the cultural enrichment it brings to us as residents. But, of course, there are 11 other months in the year and still much more to look forward to.

The City’s fifth and ever more popular Festival of Sport continues until Sunday, with the second SkyRide taking place in Holyrood Park on Saturday. I would encourage you sign up. I joined Sir Chris Hoy at last year’s event and had a great family day out on the bike.

Next month, from 18–27 October, we host the Scottish International Storytelling Festival with a theme this year of ‘Once upon a journey’. Then, in late November, we have a refreshed Christmas programme to savour, closely followed by our world-famous Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, featuring headliners, The Pet Shop Boys.

What better way to say farewell to yet another fantastic year in Edinburgh, the World’s Festival City?

This entry was posted by Media Team on 04/09/2013

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