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Edinburgh's Christmas celebrations revealed for 2014/2015

Press Release   •   Sep 30, 2014 15:10 BST

Underbelly and Unique Events, on behalf of City of Edinburgh Council, today announce the programme of Edinburgh's Christmas 2014/2015. 

Edinburgh’s Christmas promises to be bigger, better and more affordable than ever – especially for families and Edinburgh residents.

Highlights include:

  • EH postcode holders receive a 20% discount on all shows, rides and events.
  • Special family prices are available for most attractions. Edinburgh residents are able to take advantage of these prices and also use their 20% discount– so getting the best value for money.
  • New attractions in East Princes Street Gardens for between £1 and £4. 
The desire to offer value has been achieved without any compromise on quality – with the Starflyer, Big Wheel and Paradiso Spiegeltent all returning along with an expanded Santa Land and, the community opening event, Light Night on George Street.

Other highlights include:

  • Light Night on George Street returning on 23rd November with 60school and community groups confirmed to perform on a series ofstages up and down George Street to the theme of ‘ChristmasSongs and Carols’. Last year, over 26,000 people took to thestreets to enjoy this community event. 
  • A truly unique ice rink in St Andrew Square around the Melville Monument 
  • The Paradiso Speigletent returns with a programme of worldclass entertainment including Scotch and Soda, the internationally acclaimed circus show direct from sell out runsat the Sydney and Brisbane Festivals, Stickman, comedy superstar Al Murray for 3 nights only and Edinburgh's favouriteall male burlesque troupe, Briefs
  • Santa Land in East Princes Street Gardens with the very successful Christmas Tree Maze, Santa Train and Santa’s Grotto, all seen in 2013,joined by a series of affordable family attractions priced between £1 and£4. 
  • Other attractions in East Princes Street Gardens include the Big Wheel, the Star Flyer, the Ice Rink on the East Princes Street Gardens terrace and the double decker Carousel.
In 2013 we promised to deliver a re-imagined Christmas for Edinburgh, a festival torival the celebrations of other world cities and an event of which the capital city ofScotland would be proud of. This we achieved, with international broadcaster CNN voting Edinburgh's Christmas one of the top ten best cities for a winter vacation. Other highlights of the success of Edinburgh’s Christmas 2013 include:

  • 387,000 tickets sold for Edinburgh’s Christmas
  • A 7.6% increase in city centre footfall rates and a 16.8% increase in Princes Streetfootfall in December (massively outperforming a UK average of -2.9%)
  • 73% of people from Edinburgh said that Edinburgh’s Christmas was the sole or animportant reason to come to Edinburgh that day. And over half of the visitors (51%)from outside of Edinburgh said that Edinburgh’s Christmas was the sole or animportant reason to come to Edinburgh’s City Centre that day.
Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam of Underbelly said: ”We’re delighted to be presenting Edinburgh’s Christmas for the second year. Last year we re-imagined the event andbrought record breaking numbers of people to Edinburgh. We’re very excited about this year’s innovations, including the new ice rink in St Andrew Square around the Melville Monument; the expanded Santa Land in Princes Street Gardens with more affordable attractions; and the new family prices and the 20% EH residents’ discount across the board. We want this to be a Christmas for all of Edinburgh and we think there’s somethingfor everyone – from Scotch & Soda in the Spiegeltent to our Stained Glass project where24 Edinburgh primary schools will show off their creations in Princes Street Gardens. Ourambition is to make Edinburgh the best place to spend Christmas, whether you’re aresident or a visitor. It maybe early to say this, but we are wishing Edinburgh a “Happy Christmas”.

Edinburgh's Festivals and Events Champion, Councillor Steve Cardownie, said: "Edinburgh is always a special city during winter and this year, the Capital is certainly the place to be to celebrate Christmas."Our festive programmes are the envy of the world. The line up this winter with Underbelly will be bring back some of the city's classic attractions such as Santa Land - which will be bigger than ever before - and the spectacular Light Night on George Street which returns for its second year. Not only will the East Princes Street Gardens ice rink make a return,after receiving well over 30,000 visitors last Christmas, but a new bespoke ice rink in St Andrew Square will be opened for the very first time."I am especially pleased that after feedback from Edinburgh residents and a concerted decision to tailor the programme to suit even more local people, this year's programme offers a big range of free events and a selection of great value attractions from as little as £1."Our Christmas events provide a great boost to the Edinburgh economy, and this year's offering is set draw residents and visitors of all ages into the city centre."

Chairman of VisitScotland, Mike Cantlay said:

“Edinburgh’s Christmas gets bigger and better year on year and the programme for 2014 festivities is simply mesmerising! With a stunning new ice rink at St Andrew Square, an expanded Santa Land in Princes Street gardens and a unique stained glass exhibition by the children of Edinburgh, there is something to inspire all visitors to the city. 

“Scotland has had a truly phenomenal 2014, welcoming the world for a hugely successful year of events including the Commonwealth Games, The Ryder Cup and the huge programme of Homecoming activities across the country.  Edinburgh’s Christmas will finish this sensational year in magnificent style and I would encourage everyone to make the trip to Scotland’s capital to experience this magical time.”

Highlights of Edinburgh's Christmas include:
Light Night

Sunday 23rd November 2014, 2pm to 5pm, Free

  • Light Night - the Opening Ceremony of Edinburgh's Christmas is free for all to enjoyand encapsulates the true spirit of the festive season: family and the community.
  • This is an event for the community, by the community, with an expected audience ofover 25,000 watching approximately 600 local performers on George Street.
  • The theme of this year event is Christmas Songs and Carols. A number of stageswill be erected along George Street and 22 local schools and other communitygroups will present performances of their favourite Christmas songs.
  • Light Night will be hosted by Arlene Stuart of Forth One.
  • Among the schools and community groups performing will be 22 primary schools, 2 secondary schools and 25 community groups including Cramond School, Leith Academy, Wester Hailes Education Centre and Edinburgh and East Lothian Arts .
  • The Christmas Tree on the Mound, a gift to the City of Edinburgh Council from theHordaland County Council in Norway, will be lit as part of the Light Night switchon and musicians from Hordaland in Norway will lead George Street in celebration and song.
St Andrew Square21st November to 04th January, Free to access
  • A totally new and unique Ice Rink comes to Edinburgh and to St Andrew Square,circumnavigating the iconic Melville Monument and the circular bar at its foot.
  • Following in the footsteps of last year’s hit LIMBO, the magnificent 635 seat Spiegeltent returns to play host to Scotch and Soda, the critically acclaimed circus sensation that comes to Edinburgh from sell-out seasons at the Brisbane and Sydney Festivals.
  • The Paradiso Spiegletent programme also includes Al Murray celebrating 20 yearsof Lager Tops and Edinburgh's favourite all male burlesque, Briefs, return with atruly unique festive party. Julia Donaldson’s Stickman will entertain all the family tree along with Baby Disco and the return of the legend that is Hot Dub Time Machine for a limited run.
  • The Laughing Stock will be offering audiences an exclusive and original experience: a delicious dinner cooked by their award winning chefs and served in a private booth in the Spiegeltent, prior to an electrifying performance of Scotch and Soda or Briefs.
Other highlights of St Andrews Square include:
  • The Scottish Market: The market showcases some of the best of Scottish food,drink and crafts.
  • A Carousel and a Helter Skelter
The Mound Precinct and East Princes Street Gardens
21st November to 04th January, Free to access

The Star Flyer: Come see Edinburgh as you have never seen it before, and this year you might just open your eyes. Last year over 62,000 people took to the sky inthe Star Flyer, which this year is re-located to East Princes Street Gardens.

Santa Land: Santa Land is bigger and better this year. Joining the Santa Train andthe Christmas Tree Maze are several affordable kids rides including the Swan ride,the Reindeer carousel, a mini roller-coaster, the Ride-a-rama, a North Pole Slideand, for slightly older children, the Ice Wall. Santa himself will be installed in a resplendent and enlarged grotto and around Santa Land will be a number of other stalls, including face-painting.

The Big Wheel: Perhaps the most visible sign that the festive season has arrived in Edinburgh, the Christmas Wheel returns to Princes Street Gardens with its cosy,covered pods. As high as eight buses and bejewelled with 20,000 lights, the DutchmadeFerris wheel is a joyful and kaleidoscopic addition to Edinburgh's famousfestive skyline. In 2013, 120,000 people enjoyed the new Big Wheel (more thantwice the number of previous years).

Ice Rink: That great Edinburgh tradition returns, to provide a boutique skatingexperience like no other, overlooked by the magnificence of the Scott Monument.33,000 people took to the ice at Edinburgh's Christmas 2013.

The European Christmas Market: 106 stalls return to Princes Street Gardens and the Mound Precinct from across northern Europe with a selection of foods, drinks and crafts to form the magical Christmas Market.

Nativity Carol Concert 
30th November, 5pm, Free
In conjunction with St Andrews and St Georges West and Edinburgh Churches Together,a carol concert will be held on the first day of Advent around the Nativity Scene,generously donated to Edinburgh by Sir Tom Farmer.

St Andrew's Day, St Andrew Square30th November, 10am to 10pm, FreeSt Andrew’s Day activities for all the family, fittingly in St Andrew’s Square for the first time!As part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals, music, storytelling and more will celebrateScotland’s national day and patron Saint.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: "The Scottish Government is proud to support Edinburgh's St Andrew's Day celebrations, as part of Scotland's Winter Festivals. From ceilidh dancing and curling demonstrations, to live music and storytelling, these festivities in the heart of the capital, to mark Scotland's national day,are aimed at all the family.A warm welcome awaits both residents and visitors alike, as our rich culture and distinctive heritage take centre stage."

Decorate Edinburgh 
Decorate Edinburgh is an inclusive charity project spread around Edinburgh. Working with the St Andrew’s and St George’s Christmas Tree festival, Decorate Edinburgh gives local businesses the opportunity to be a part of Edinburgh’s Christmas by designing a tree which can be seen in and around Edinburgh. 30% of the proceeds are donated to local charity.

The Stained Glass Window Project, Free
24 primary schools in Edinburgh are taking part in a creative project during the Autumn term to design a festive themed, stained glass window. The best window design from eachschool will be displayed in a series in East Princes Street Gardens, to be seen by themillions of visitors to Edinburgh’s Christmas. A great way for local school children to getinvolved in the festivities and show off their artistic talents to visitors and other residents.

24 Doors of Advent, Free
Working in conjunction with the Cockburn Association, from 1- 24 December, a different door – normally locked - will be opened in the City each day to members of the public. Like an advent calendar, you will have to wait to find out what's behind the doors.


Photographs of Edinburgh’s Christmas are available for download at https://www.flickr.com/photos/127834072@N05/sets/72157647286721977/
Follow us: Facebook: facebook/edinburghschristmas 

Twitter: @EdXmas

Tickets for all ticketed events are available from: www.edinburghschristmas.com 

0844 545 8252 

For further information on Edinburgh's Christmas, please contact:
Fraser Smith 
Press for Underbelly
07801 55 22285
fraser@underbelly.co.uk 

Notes to Editors:

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland. 
  • The organisation has three key roles:
  1. To market Scotland to all parts of the world to attract visitors
  2. To provide information – and inspiration – to visitors and potential visitors so they get the best out of a visit to Scotland
  3. To provide quality assurance to visitors and quality advice to the industry and partners to help the industry meet and strive to exceed customer expectations
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • 2014 is the year Scotland welcomes the world, when it hosts the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and more than 800 Homecoming events throughout the country.For more information on Homecoming Scotland 2014, go to www.visitscotland.com
  • The VisitScotland Information Centre network is a unique face-to-face channel engaging with around five million visitors and locals each year. Everyone who uses a VisitScotland Information Centre goes on to spend an additional £5.35, generating over £24 million for Scotland’s economy. 
  • According to a recent Deloitte study, tourism employs 270,000 people in Scotland in 20,000 diverse businesses. The same study calculates that the industry contributes £11 billion annually (direct and indirect impact, including day visits) and supports around 10 per cent of employment in Scotland. Almost 16 million tourists take overnight trips to Scotland.
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to www.visitscotland.com
  • For information about business tourism in Scotland go to www.conventionscotland.com
  • For more information on VisitScotland’s annual review please go to www.visitscotland.org/about_us/our_focus/annual_report.aspx