Edinburgh's Christmas - Key facts
About Edinburgh’s Christmas
Our Winter Festivals contribute significantly to the wellbeing of our residents by providing activities for all ages and income brackets to enjoy during the festive season. The events also bring positive economic benefit for the city and for Scotland as a whole, supporting jobs in the tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors, among others.
Edinburgh’s Christmas is a key part of this, bringing together attractions and experiences for a huge melting pot of our communities. Tens of thousands of Edinburgh residents will go along and enjoy the attractions every week. Underbelly have recently published the annual report from last year’s Winter Festivals, demonstrating the success of the events in 2018/19.
The Council no longer funds Edinburgh’s Christmas, with the award of the combined contract (with Hogmanay) saving the tax payer £2m over the past two years. The projected saving over the duration of the 5-year contract with Underbelly is £5m. In simple terms: if it wasn’t for Edinburgh’s Christmas, there would be no Hogmanay (certainly not as we now know it).
Last year, there was footfall of over 2.5 million through East Princes Street Gardens and over 900,000 unique visitors to Edinburgh’s Christmas. Nearly everyone (99%) surveyed rated Edinburgh’s Christmas very good or good and 8 out of 10 visitors would be very likely to recommend it to a friend.
Over 186,000 tickets were bought by Edinburgh residents using their 20% discount, with 96% of them telling us that the attractions were an important reason why they came into the city centre that day.
2018/19 saw 28,000 free tickets (the largest number of Edinburgh’s Christmas tickets yet) given away to Edinburgh residents through local charities and community groups.
Underbelly also gave away 16,013 tickets to Christmas’s Silent Light to 36 local charities and community groups, with a further 200 tickets going to children and young people under the care of the Council. Through a Trussell Trust donation stall, 222.3kg of food and non-perishable items was gathered for the Edinburgh Food Project, a £1,000 was raised in financial donations and Edinburgh’s Christmas gifted 12,000 free tickets to Trussell Trust food bank users.
Edinburgh’s Christmas 2019
The temporary structure in East Princes Gardens – paid for by Underbelly – is designed in consultation with independent engineers to protect the recent improvement works carried out by National Galleries Scotland.
The new layout will help improve access, as well as circulation of people, reducing pressure on the busiest areas and creating a more enjoyable and welcoming atmosphere, particularly for those families and individuals with mobility issues
Understandably, residents want assurances that the Gardens are protected and the safety and comfort of all those attending is secured. We’re working closely with Underbelly to make sure this happens, and our Parks officers are making daily rounds of the Gardens.
Discussions are ongoing with Underbelly about the structure and a Building Warrant application has been submitted and is currently being assessed. This includes a SER certificate from independent engineers who are Approved Certifiers of Design of Building Structures, which demonstrates compliance with the regulations. Building Standards and Public Safety teams are working with Underbelly to inspect the structure. The site will not open until all necessary conditions have been met.
Recognising the need to strike the right balance between sustaining the success of our festivals and managing the impact on the city and our residents, we are already thinking about how Edinburgh celebrates Christmas and Hogmanay in future years – in Spring 2020 there will be a broader conversation with residents and businesses about how we want our winter celebrations to look in future.
As agreed at the Culture and Communities Committee (Tuesday 12 November), a report will be brought to the next meeting in January which will look at proposals and options for Edinburgh’s Christmas 2020.
For further information on any events taking place in Edinburgh, please contact the events team