ONE of Edinburgh’s most iconic venues has enjoyed a bumper renaissance since a multi-million pound revamp, with more than 2200 visitors passing through its doors each day, new figures have shown.
The refurbished Assembly Rooms, which reopened in late July after a £9.3m facelift, has so far welcomed nearly 200,000 people into its plush new surroundings and is set to exceed first year sales targets for large events.
Reopening days ahead of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, the venue played host to several popular acts throughout August, resulting in a total festival audience of 98,000 people.
The addition of a Jamie Oliver restaurant, Jamie’s Italian, to the New Town hotspot is thought to have attracted around 60,000 diners from the launch date and was the busiest Jamie’s eatery in the world for six weeks running.
Some 35 events have been held at the George Street venue since the Fringe drew to a close, including the prestigious ceremony presenting Sir Chris Hoy with the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh and a record-breaking charity ball by St Columba’s Hospice which raised £400,000.
Valerie Fairnie, business development manager for the Assembly Rooms, said she was “not surprised” by the level of interest in the building since major renovations ended because it was an “absolutely fantastic Edinburgh venue”.
“We have worked really hard to promote the building and make people aware of what’s happening here so we had bookings since the day we were open for business. All the hard work has paid off and it’s amazing to see the Assembly Rooms back,” she said.
“When new guests see it and you see their reaction you know it’s an incredible venue.”
Built in 1787, Assembly Rooms Edinburgh is considered a highly significant building owing to its architecture and its contribution to the social history of Edinburgh. A £9.3m redevelopment over 18 months restored the A-listed building to its former glory with 250,000 man hours going into the project, which has seen plasterwork restored, ornate finishes repaired and 25 chandeliers reconditioned.
Cllr Richard Lewis, culture and leisure convener at Edinburgh City Council said: “We’ve had a terrific response to the events we’ve hosted in the last three months.
“From providing the perfect backdrop for Sir Chris Hoy’s Freedom of the City ceremony, to working with Radio Forth for ‘Fifty Shades of Grant’ and various other organisations from the Wine Society to Lindy Hop has ensured that the Assembly Rooms has been restored to the very heart of Edinburgh life.”
The Assembly Rooms was named after the historic assemblies which were a symbol of civility for communities and provided a focus and forum for community life. Its first event – held while the building was still incomplete – was the Caledonian Hunt Ball.
The most important building of its type in uk
Assembly Rooms Edinburgh was built in 1787 and is the most important building of its type surviving in the UK because of the quality of its architecture and its contribution to the social history of Edinburgh through the ages.
The £9.3 million redevelopment which lasted for 18 months restored the A-listed building to its former glory, with modern infrastructure ensuring a first-class customer experience.
Since then it has hosted a string of major events, and sell-out Festival shows including performances from comedian Jerry Sadowitz and singer Camille O’Sullivan helped ensure it was a triumphant return for the popular venue.
Among the 35 major events hosted at Assembly Rooms Edinburgh in the two months since the Fringe have been Sir Chris Hoy receiving the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh, which brought massive crowds to the venue on George Street.
The new-look Assembly has also hosted the St Columba’s Hospice Live Life Ball that raised a record £400,000, the opening of new boutique retailers Kiehl’s and Glasgow jewellers ROX, and has seen over 1200 people in just five hours visiting as part of Edinburgh Doors Open Day.
Forthcoming events at the venue include hosting this year’s Edinburgh Hogmanay Ball, a grand celebration that will see hundreds of guests welcome in the New Year in style.
And it will also return as one of the city’s key Fringe venues next year.