Council ‘would be mad’ to drop Hogmanay street party

A survey found mass gatherings in the city over the festive period were the least-wanted events in the future.

Council ‘would be mad’ to drop Hogmanay street party iStock

Business leaders warned council chiefs they “would be mad” to drop Edinburgh’s Hogmanay street party – and urged them not to scale back the lucrative winter festivals.

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and city centre business group Essential Edinburgh called for the Christmas and New Year events to be ‘better, not smaller’.

Around 73% of business owners or managers said the winter festivals had increased their footfall and turnover.

The poll, which attracted more than 8600 responses, found 87% support for the Christmas festival continuing and 86% backing for Hogmanay.

But a shake-up of how the two events are organised is expected to address concerns around overcrowding, the cost of tickets, and their environment impact.

A survey found mass gatherings, such as the Hogmanay street party and torchlight parade, were the least wanted element of a New Year festival in future.

The current Hogmanay festival costs around £1.1m in public funding but is said to be worth £39m to the economy.

Funfair rides and bars were said to be the least popular elements of the Christmas festival, which was valued at £119m in recent years.

Essential Edinburgh chief executive Roddy Smith said: “Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations are renowned around the world and are an iconic event to attend for residents and visitors.

“Their success has been garnered by years of fantastic nights of celebrations, which showcase our city around the world.

“They may cause some disruption to some city centre residents for a period of time, and we must do things more sustainability, but we should not look to reduce its size and scale.

“Hogmanay is synonymous with Edinburgh and drives the hotel and visitor economy over the festive period.

“The council would be mad to drop the street party.

“With a large number of visitors to the city over Hogmanay, there is direct benefit to our hospitality businesses and retailers.

“Our city centre has and is being redeveloped to support worldwide changes to retail and an increased hospitality offering, with much of the inward investment geared to our wonderful tourist offering and events.

“We need to do things better, not smaller.”

Chamber chief executive Liz McAreavey said: “Our festivals put Edinburgh in the national and international spotlight on Edinburgh as a destination, helping support tens of thousands of local jobs in the process.

“The winter festivals are of huge value to local businesses, and the high level of support for them from businesses in the survey confirms this.

“It is interesting to note that while ‘mass gatherings’ are described as the least wanted activity, among the most wanted events at Hogmanay were the fireworks and music events – all of which draw very significant crowds and require to be ticketed in order to ensure they are well and safely managed.

“It’s important we ensure the quality and attraction of the winter festivals is enhanced and improved.

“Adaptation is inevitable, but we need to make them even better, not smaller.”

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