Trams derail Edinburgh’s Hogmanay party as street works force organisers into rethink

Pete Irvine launches the 13 Be Lucky Hogmanay mini-festival yesterday. Picture: Greg Macvean
Pete Irvine launches the 13 Be Lucky Hogmanay mini-festival yesterday. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Music stages have been forced off Edinburgh’s Princes Street for Hogmanay and the capital’s street party has had to be scaled back due to the city’s tram project.

Safety fears and technical problems have led to the relocation of traditional giant screens and stages for the first time, after the installation of millions of pounds worth of tram infrastructure in recent months.

Just 75,000 people are expected to be allowed into the thoroughfare this year, while the only music stages will be 
on Waverley Bridge and at the junction of George Street and Frederick Street.

Music from DJs located at the top of The Mound will instead be broadcast to the crowds 
from the traditional giant screens along Princes Street 
due to the number of power 
cables and pylons that have been installed.

Pete Irvine, artistic director of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, said there had been “huge challenges” in planning this year’s event because his team were only made aware of potential problems late in the day.

He revealed there had to be a complete “rethink” of the celebrations this year, with enforced changes to the layout of the street party, adding that there were likely to be similar difficulties in future years due to the 
impact of the tram project.

The opening event of the three-day Hogmanay festival, the torchlight procession through the city centre, has also had to be relocated away from Princes Street and the Royal Mile for the first time. The event has provided some of the most spectacular photographs of the Hogmanay celebrations, showing a river of fire snaking along Princes Street as up to 25,000 revellers made their way to Calton Hill.

However, the Princes Street festivities are to be rebranded as the “world’s biggest dancefloor”, with eight screens – the same number used at last year’s party – expected to be set up 
to beam sound and images 
from 60 years of classic pop and rock hits.

A strong line-up of bands will appear on the two free stages 
off Princes Street, with Admiral Fallow, Lau and Shooglenifty at the new Frederick Street stage, and The Maccabees, Reverend and the Makers and The OK 
Social Club on Waverley Bridge.

Organisers have also lined up an opening event before the torchlight parade on the steps of the National Museum of Scotland, featuring Shetland’s 
famous “Up Helly Aa” Vikings and performers from Edinburgh’s Beltane Fire Festival.

Tramworks on Princes Street are expected to be brought to a halt before the city’s Christmas lights are switched on at the end of November. However, other work is expected to continue on nearby thoroughfares, meaning some normal routes to and from the street party are unavailable.

Mr Irvine said: “This year has definitely been a real challenge. There were some changes we wanted to make but others that we didn’t want.

“Previously we have had screens and stages at either end of Princes Street and stages at various locations along the street, such as at the gallery of the Scott Monument, but we’re not able to do that now.

“We will still have two stages for live music, but we’ve had 
to work around the issues with the pylons and cables and think laterally this year.”