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City residents flock to Edinburgh’s Christmas as footfall soars and more EH postcode holders than ever enjoy their 20% discount!

8th Jan 2020

  • Footfall up 4.85% as 2,631,154 people enjoyed the Christmas Market in East Princes Street Gardens 
  • More locals than ever used their 20% EH postcode discount, buying 196,656 tickets: a 23.9% increase on the same events in 2018.
  • Brand-new free event Community Christmas brought festive cheer to 12 local communities across the capital. 
  • Edinburgh’s Christmas gave out 17,559 free tickets to Edinburgh and Scotland-wide charities and community groups, an increase of 173% on the same events in 2018. 
  • The Christmas Tree Maze raised £9,104 for local charity, Edinburgh and the Lothians Greenspace Trust’s Tree Time.  


2019 marked the seventh year of Underbelly producing Edinburgh’s Christmas on behalf of City of Edinburgh Council.


A total of 2,631,154 people passed through Edinburgh’s Christmas in East Princes Street Gardens, representing a significant 4.85% increase in footfall on 2018. Thanks to the re-design of the space, this year’s Christmas Market was not only able to easily accommodate the increased number of visitors but also protect the Gardens and improve its accessibility through new accessible pathways which were met with a great response from visitors with additional mobility requirements. For the first time, and in partnership with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, free to hire sensory backpacks were also available for adults and children with additional needs, making Edinburgh’s Christmas 2019 the most accessible yet. 


Edinburgh residents snapped up 196,656 tickets using their 20% EH postcode discount, an impressive increase of 23.9% on the same events in 2018. (The total number of EH postcode discount tickets sold in 2018 was 186,799 and the 23.9% increase to 2019 is calculated by excluding Silent Light, ice skating in St Andrew Square and shows in Festival Square Spiegeltent, events which didn’t recur in 2019).


648,397tickets were sold to the various Edinburgh’s Christmas events, attractions and rides, a 1.5% increase on the same events in 2018. (The total number of tickets sold in 2018 was 771,004 and the 1.5% increase is calculated by excluding Silent Light, ice skating in St Andrew Square and shows in Festival Square Spiegeltent, events which didn’t recur in 2019).


An estimated audience of 3,000 enjoyedCommunity Christmas, a free, family celebration which brought festive cheer to 12 different communities around Edinburgh, including The Inch, Wester Hailes and Gilmerton, as they enjoyed performances from their local choirs and singing groups alongside festive projections designed by Double Take Projections.


Other highlights included Father Christmas literally flying up the Royal Mile on his sleigh at Light Night(17 November), wowing all present as he sprinkled festive spirit and switched on the city’s Christmas lights. This spectacular free family afternoon also saw175 local singers and dancers from 5 community groups perform on stage in front of a crowd of 15,000. 


Chosen out of 1,680 superb entries, the 40 winning Winter Windows designs, this year themed around ‘A Festive Welcome’, adorned Edinburgh streets showcasing the talents of the city’s budding young artists. 


The season also saw Edinburgh’s Christmas give away 17,559free tickets, including 6,000 to the The Trussell Trust’s food banks, 5,000 to groups supported by Edinburgh’s OneCity Trust. A further 2,379 tickets were donated to looked after and cared for children in Edinburgh, 897 to Goodtrees Community Centrewhich works directly with families affected by poverty offering free food and activities and aims to reduce social isolation and 754 tickets to Canongate Youthsupporting children and young people who face the challenges of multiple deprivation, with many of them a victim of abuse or negligence, struggling with mental health issues, or having learning or physical disabilities.


(The total number of free tickets given away in 2018 was 27,360 and the 173% increase is calculated by excluding Silent Light, ice skating in St Andrew Square and shows in Festival Square Spiegeltent, events which didn’t recur in 2019).


Edinburgh’s Christmas raised over £10,000 in support of Edinburgh and Scotland-wide charities, including:

  • 25p from every ticket sold for the Christmas Tree Maze, a Santa Land favourite and the most Instagrammable festive spot in the capital, went to support Edinburgh and the Lothians Greenspace Trust’s Tree Time, an initiativeenabling and encouraging people to donate towards the replacement of street trees. The £9,104 raisedwill go towards planting new trees in Edinburgh. 
  • OneCity Trust, Edinburgh’s Christmas’ official partner charity, is an Edinburgh-focused trust led by the city’s Lord Provost, Frank Ross; the Trust works towards fighting exclusion and inequality in Edinburgh. Through voluntary donations over £1,000 was raised for the Trust as well as 5,000 tickets donated to allocate to the numerous groups the Trust supports.   
  • Through bucket-shaking and carolling at Edinburgh’s Christmas, various charities and community groups such as Thistle Foundation, Preston Street Primaryand Scottish Association on Mental Healthraised £1,297 in support of their work. 


Every year, Edinburgh’s Christmas works very closely with The Trussell Trust food banksaround the city, encouraging residents to donate non-perishables, toiletries and unwanted Christmas gifts to a food bank donation point located at the Christmas Market in Princes Street Gardens. 


Edinburgh’s Christmas also works to maximise local sourcingfrom within Edinburgh and Scotland. In 2018/19,Edinburgh’s Christmas spent over £1.22m with 105 Edinburgh suppliersand a further amount of £721,000 with 10 suppliers from other parts of Scotland. Figures for 2019/20 will be released in due course.


The Christmas Market de-rig, currently underway, is scheduled to complete on 20 January. Underbelly is contracted to meet the costs of reinstatement within East Princes Street Gardens and Underbelly has been in discussions with City of Edinburgh Council about how to re-turf the Gardens as quickly as possible following the end of the de-rig period. 

Posted by Annie Wheeler