Councillors approve a one-year pilot for Winter Festivals

Fireworks at the Edinburgh Castle

Councillors today (Tuesday 30 November) gave unanimous backing to a proposed route map for the future of Edinburgh’s Winter Festivals, following the findings of a major independent survey.

The results, published last week, revealed overwhelming support from residents and organisations for continuation of Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations in the Capital, but with a revised format. Councillors from across all political parties have endorsed the findings and agreed to run a one-year pilot .

For winter 2022/23, a procurement exercise will be undertaken to identify a producer to deliver Edinburgh’s Christmas and an individual or organisation will be appointed to a Winter Festivals Director role. The All Party Oversight Group (APOG) will now agree the brief for these appointments using the clear feedback from the consultation to ensure that it meets the needs of residents and businesses and is of appropriate scale.

More than 8,600 people and 35 organisations responded to the survey on the future of Edinburgh’s Winter Festivals, with 87% expressing support for a Christmas celebration and 86% for Hogmanay.

The 12-week consultation, carried out in Spring this year by independent market research company Progressive Partnership on behalf of the Council, sought feedback from the Capital’s residents, communities and businesses on the events from 2022 onwards. Overall, results showed a wish to continue to provide high quality Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations which will in turn be valued by residents and visitors.

Council Leader Adam McVey said:

When we agreed to run a citywide conversation with our residents, businesses and stakeholders on the future of Edinburgh’s Winter Festivals we had a very open mind on what the format of these events could be in future years. 

We had an excellent response to the consultation, and it was encouraging that so many want to see Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations continue in the years ahead, while providing us with a valuable insight into what exactly people and businesses would like to see changed. 

I know there are lots of differing views on major events, such as Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay, but it has been encouraging to see this level of input from people of all ages and from right across the City into the consultation. Whilst some differences of opinion can’t be reconciled, the input from people has set a road for these events to reflect residents’ aspirations for these celebrations for future years while dealing with concerns raised about previous years.

Our focus here is firmly on our residents and local businesses. If we get it right for them first and foremost, then these events will be enjoyed for many years to come.”

Council Depute Leader Cammy Day said:

We’re very pleased to see such a large and positive response to the consultation and that the majority want Edinburgh to keep its place on the international map for Christmas celebrations and as home of Hogmanay.

There’s no doubt that our Winter Festivals deliver real economic impact, benefitting tourism, retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in particular. However, taking heed of the findings and looking ahead to events next year we’ll be looking to share these benefits and look to spread events across our town centres and communities.

Thanks to the feedback already gathered, we’ll now be able to take people’s comments and ideas into account as we plan for next year, and beyond. Making sure we have a great winter festival and Edinburgh remains the best city to visit!

Find out more about the consultation responses.

Published: November 30th 2021