Council Leaders welcome record-breaking first week for Edinburgh’s Christmas

The rising popularity of Edinburgh’s Christmas has been welcomed by the leaders of the City of Edinburgh Council.

2019/20 Christmas

Footfall figures for the first 9 days (first Saturday to second Sunday) are 522,000 – 13% up on the same period last year.

These figures build on the biggest ever opening weekend for the Capital’s festive markets which saw a third more people enjoy the first Saturday of the event than in 2018. 

In total, the first festive weekend was enjoyed by 177,070* festival-goers, including 12,000 Light Night attendees. Saturday’s Christmas market footfall rose 30%, from 68,230 in 2018 to 88,971, with overall weekend footfall to the markets up by 11%, from 148,056 to 165,070.

Following debate around the current layout of the festive markets in East Princes Street Gardens, the Council announced that the shape of the winter festivals will be subject to public consultation next year. 

Council Leader Adam McVey said: “Today’s figures are positive for Edinburgh’s Christmas, confirming the appeal of the event is still exceptionally strong with families and residents in the Capital. Bringing footfall to the city centre during the winter months is vital and supports local jobs and the wider economy.

“Edinburgh’s Christmas brings many advantages to our city and we shouldn’t be afraid to celebrate that. This year’s layout has helped provide a better flow to the event and made it more accessible. Going forward, I’m keen to see a far greater discussion around how our Christmas Looks in future and we’ve committed to a conversation with the City next year to help shape Edinburgh’s Christmases offer from 2022. I’d encourage residents and businesses to share their thoughts on this year’s events with us now so we can work with the organisers to make further improvements as the celebrations continue.”

Depute Council Leader Cammy Day added: “Edinburgh is one of the best places in the world to celebrate Christmas and Hogmanay and we have an incredible event on our doorsteps which more than 500,000 people have enjoyed already.  

“I’ve been along to our Christmas festivals and it was great to see so many people of all ages enjoying the festivities. The new layout has improved the flow of people through the market and makes for an enjoyable atmosphere for everyone including families, busy shoppers and the whole event is now accessible. We’ve received feedback from many who share my view. My thanks to our hardworking public safety team, Police, Underbelly and others behind the scenes who will continue to work collectively to ensure that our Christmas festivals are some of the best in the World.”
An Underbelly spokesperson said: “Edinburgh is voting with its feet - again. We’ve had over half a million people through in 9 days and despite the rain, it’s great to see that the event is more popular than ever. The new layout and increased space for people to flow is benefiting everybody: particularly those with mobility issues and adults with young children. The increased numbers of visitors will hopefully be positive for local businesses. There’s much more to come over the season and through to Hogmanay and we’re looking forward to sharing it with the people of Edinburgh.”

This year, Waverley Bridge is closed to vehicles during the busiest times (between 11am – 5pm on Saturday’s and Sundays) to improve circulation of revellers and reduce pressure on the busiest areas.

*177,070 = 165,070 to markets + 12,000 to Light Night

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