Festivity funds start to flow as Hogmanay given £400k boost

SCOTLAND’S Hogmanay celebrations are to get a £400,000 boost from the government for 2014 following years of the festivities being cut back.

Specially-themed events to “book-end” the second Year of Homecoming are being planned as part of a £3 million programme of events throughout the year.

An event producer is being targeted to mastermind a string of new and one-off events, which are aimed at “enhancing” existing celebrations.

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Whichever firm is successful will be expected to work with existing event organisers, with firms like Unique Events, which organises the capital’s festivities, and T in the Park organisers DF Concerts both expected to be interested.

VisitScotland, which is co-ordinating the tendering process on behalf of the government, is in overall charge of the Homecoming budget.

A spokesman for VisitScotland said: “We are looking for a suitable company to act as the creative producer to devise and implement something unique. This will add value to existing Hogmanay celebrations and create new possibilities across Scotland to kick off this exciting year.”

The next Homecoming year – which is being paid for by the Scottish Government – will coincide with the staging of the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games and 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.

The lucrative Hogmanay contract is up for grabs at the same time as Edinburgh is seeking a producer for its own Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations, raising the prospect of the same firm securing both deals.

The money has been ring fenced in the wake of celebrations being either dropped or radically scaled back in Scotland’s towns and cities in the last few years.

Glasgow controversially ended its festivities over the bells two years ago, while Aberdeen has only staged a fireworks display recently.

Only Edinburgh, Inverness and Stirling held high-profile celebrations over the bells this year, with Oban, Dundee, Fort William and Loch Ness shunning any formal festivities.

The celebrations in the capital are already funded to the tune of £1.1m by the city council, with the Scottish Government ploughing in around £250,000 via its £2.25m “Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund.”

It emerged last year that £3m was being put up for grabs for event organisers by the government and VisitScotland.

A spokeswoman for EventScotland said it was due to announce the successful applications for an initial round of £1.2m round of events shortly.

A spokesman for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay said: “We are well aware of this tender for the next Year of Homecoming and have made applicants for our own contract aware of it. Edinburgh is the home of Hogmanay and we are obviously looking forward to working with whoever is successful.”