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25th Sep 2020

It is hard to reflect on last year’s Edinburgh’s Winter Festivals when so much has changed since their close at the start of this year.  However, it is important to review what the Winter Festivals achieved in 2019, to record the events and performances and to provide details of the festivals’ financials, our community impact and fundraising for charities. 

  • The overall attendance at the Winter Festivals was: 943K unique visitors to Edinburgh’s Christmas and 185K attendees at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay
  • 10,000 local residents took up the 20% discount for the Street Party and nearly 200,000 tickets to Edinburgh’s Christmas were purchased with the EH postcode discount
  • Over 17,000 tickets for Edinburgh’s Christmas were gifted to local food bank users
  • Light Night helped fly Santa Claus up the Royal Mile to a capacity crowd, and we introduced Community Christmas to take the celebrations to neighbourhoods all around Edinburgh.
  • Edinburgh’s Hogmanay theme was BE TOGETHER and we opened with an inspirational, truly Scottish experience with 20,000 torchbearers at the Torchlight Possession, culminating in the flaming finale image of two people extending the hand of friendship. 
  • The theme continued with an amazing programme of international and Scottish artists collaborating at the Street Party on 31 December, ending with Mark Ronson’s specially commissioned soundtrack for the midnight fireworks. 
  • The three-day festival concluded with Message from the Skies’ Shorelines, including Kayus Bankole’s prescient piece on Edinburgh’s historic involvement in the slave trade, Sugar for Your Tea. 

The report also reflects on the wider contribution of Edinburgh’s Winter Festivals to the city, its residents and businesses. Two thirds of our suppliers are from the local area, and we worked with no fewer than 625 separate local businesses. We also couldn’t have done this without over 800, mostly local, staff. A huge thank you to them all. Both festivals receive very high satisfaction ratings and generate wonderfully positive stories and images of Edinburgh and Scotland.

The cross-subsidy received by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay from Edinburgh’s Christmas has allowed us to increase the annual expenditure on Edinburgh’s Hogmanay by over £1M to nearly £4.5M.

In the Covid-19 world, alongside our sister festivals, Edinburgh’s Christmas and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will have an important role to play in Edinburgh’s economic and social recovery. But, first and foremost, our planning will prioritise public safety. Thereafter, we will put Edinburgh and its communities even more at the heart of our festivals; we will support local businesses; and, we will continue to be ambitious. Edinburgh’s Winter Festivals are world-class events – and we want Edinburgh and Scotland to continue to be proud of them.


Posted by Annie Wheeler