Don’t spoil the magic by splitting Edinburgh’s festivals

Cliff Hague of the Cockburn Association has complained about a city clogged with festival-goers. Picture: Neil Hanna
Cliff Hague of the Cockburn Association has complained about a city clogged with festival-goers. Picture: Neil Hanna
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Edinburgh’s festivals will draw to a formal close tomorrow with the fireworks concert from the castle.

While there are no official figures yet, businesses and venues report that the city has been busier than ever before – perhaps boosted by the attractiveness of a weaker pound to international visitors.

This has prompted the Cockburn Association to add their voice to a debate about the organisation of the festivals.

Cockburn head Cliff Hague says Scotland’s capital is becoming “dysfunctional” in August due to the vast number of people. He cites streets “clogged” with festival-goers and “stalled” traffic.

Any debate is healthy and the call to 
have more festival events outside the city 
centre is welcome. But we should be cautious about Mr Hague’s suggestion for the major festivals to be spread out during the year to allow the city to better “manage” major events.

The Cockburn Association may see a clogged pavement but others see a city that has a buzz and electricity like no other during August. It is the sheer number of people which attracts the pop-up bars and eateries, the countless Fringe venues and the audience for round-the-clock street performances.

Over-management risks removing the beating heart of the festival. And that would not be a positive legacy in its 70th year.