THE first in a string of open-air markets is set to take place on Castle Street after a £2 million revamp.
A fine foods market on Thursday, May 25 will kick-off an events season featuring outdoor entertainment in the street, where council chiefs have spent 2m pedestrianising the bottom half close to Princes Street.
Markets will then be held on the final Thursday of every month over the summer, catering for a range of palates with everything from traditional Scottish fare to a diverse multi-cultural mix.
The new market follows in the footsteps of the Capital's hugely successful farmers' market, albeit with more of an international flavour.
City planning chiefs also gave the go-ahead for four touring markets to be held in Frederick Street throughout this year, selling fresh produce such as cheese, bread and takeaway continental foods as well as gifts.
Castle Street will have a distinct continental feel in future, embracing cafe pavement culture. Eight kiosks selling products including coffee and newspapers are expected to be erected on the street.
Councillor leader Donald Anderson today hailed the Castle Street market as a welcome addition to the city centre.
He said: "Designed for city workers on their way home or late night shoppers who want to linger in town, the market will showcase how public space can be used and enjoyed. I am sure that similar projects, which are under way in St Andrew Square and the Grassmarket, will reap similar rewards."
Edinburgh City Centre Management (ECCM), the independent company charged with promoting, developing and improving the city centre, will take charge of events in Castle Street.
City centre manager Ian Broadfoot said: "The fine food market and the ongoing programme of events in Castle Street should provide an additional reason for shoppers, visitors and workers to enjoy all that the city centre has to offer in a greatly enhanced street environment.
"ECCM is committed to working alongside local businesses to ensure that Castle Street events, and ECCM events throughout the city centre, have a positive impact on trade. Great consideration has been given to the provision of events that will not disrupt or compete with, but rather enhance the prospects of businesses in the area."
Stephen Gallagher, director of Global Connections at Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian, said: "The market will be the first event to capitalise on Castle Street's new look and visitors and residents will be able to enjoy a wonderful event in one of the Capital's most historic streets, with Edinburgh Castle in the backdrop and right at heart of the city centre.
"The improvements at Castle Street, as well as further work planned within the Capital's public spaces will enhance our city's world-class reputation, boost tourism, and make Edinburgh a more attractive location for highly qualified, creative people and innovative businesses."
Derek Denham, owner of the Castleview Guest House, gave the market a cautious welcome.
He said: "We'll have to see how it turns out, if it is run well and they keep standards high it should be all right. I just hope there'll be no burger vans because I find the smell nauseating. They allowed one to go outside the art gallery at The Mound which I found incredible."
He added: "A lot of people like to sit or stand in Castle Street and take photographs of the Castle. But they might not be so keen if it was to be filled with burger vans."
The first market will be held on Thursday May 25 from 4-8pm.