Cllr Lewis on hosting a world famous Hogmanay

With the Hogmanay street party growing ever more popular, careful planning has gone into making it safe, says Richard Lewis.

"The street party is now celebrating its 23rd year, and over the decades we have created a festival that is known all across the world for its celebrations, attracting first class musicians, artists, performers and events. Over the course of three days, from tonight’s Torchlight Procession to the Loony Dook, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will be enjoyed by around 80,000 people.

"Yet, as the scale of the celebrations and audience numbers continues to grow, so too must the levels of planning for what is a globally-renowned event. We are proud that Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is repeatedly hailed by the Police as a relatively safe celebration and we want to keep it that way. New Year’s Eve is the busiest night of the year in our city centre and with many people drinking and thousands attending, the responsibility for the wellbeing of revellers is not something we take lightly.

"This year, some necessary public safety changes have been made. As more and more people choose to watch the midnight fireworks from Edinburgh’s parks and hills, the Council has had to think carefully about how to manage these spaces. Because increasing numbers of people are visiting Calton Hill, it has reached the point of becoming a real safety concern. It is poorly lit, uneven underfoot, has limited marshalling and is an active fireworks zone. It will be closed for six hours during the Hogmanay celebrations but there will be a number of nearby vantage points for those who freely wish to watch the fireworks. After 10pm, the Council will close portions of Waterloo Place, Leith Street and North Bridge to traffic and these streets will offer fantastic views. Inverleith Park and the Meadows also remain popular options.

"The logistics of the official arena and security on the night must also be considered carefully. In the months leading up to New Year’s Eve, we are planning how to get people safely to and from the city centre. This year, sponsorship from Diageo will allow us to put on a free NightBus service after midnight to get people home. Then there is the big January 1 clear-up. All of this behind-the-scenes work must keep pace with the scale of the event.

"Other decisions which have been made this year include expanding the Street Party to include parts of the Old Town. Keen visitors will remember the Royal Mile used to feature quite heavily in the city’s Hogmanay celebrations, and the move to embrace parts of the High Street once more has been widely welcomed.

"Edinburgh’s Hogmanay truly is ever changing and I’m sure everyone will agree that we have a fabulous programme to be proud of this year. Wherever you choose to spend your midnight moment, stay safe, stay warm and have a happy Hogmanay."

This article originally appeared in the Edinburgh Evening News.

Edinburghs Hogmanay 2014/15

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