Olympics logo plans for Edinburgh Castle fall through

CONTROVERSIAL plans to erect giant Olympics rings in Scotland’s capital in time for the Hogmanay celebrations have collapsed after organisers failed to find an alternative to Edinburgh Castle.

Olympic officials, the Scottish Government, Edinburgh city council and Historic Scotland had all been involved in 11th-hour talks to find a suitable spot for the rings to go so they could be seen during the Hogmanay fireworks.

However, problems finding a suitable location after Historic Scotland pulled the plug on the use of the castle, means organisers will have to make do with a digital-only launch of “Britain’s Olympic Year”.

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Revellers will be able to download a specially created piece of 2012 Olympic-themed artwork by pointing their mobile phones at the castle as the fireworks go off at midnight.

Much of the controversy was over a decision to leave the rings on the castle for up to nine months, and the decision to shelve the Hogmanay plan means they could go to another part of the country.

Midlothian Council has already mounted a bid to have its Hillend ski centre in the Pentlands used instead.

A special Olympic-themed “New Year Games” are being held around Edinburgh on 1 January and the Hogmanay festivities in the Scottish capital are being billed as the first official “countdown event” to London 2012, which gets under way in August.

When Historic Scotland’s decided on 23 November to ban the installation of the rings at Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish Government, the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and the London Olympic Games Organising Committee (Locog) said they would be looking for other, more suitable sites in the city.

Hogmanay plans ‘not a replacement’ for Olympic rings on castle

A spokeswoman for Locog said: “We are still looking at alternatives and the UK is now leading on it. Anything that happens won’t be till next year though.”

A spokeswoman for the DCMS added: “We are continuing to work with Edinburgh city council and the Scottish Government to identify a new location for the rings within Edinburgh.”

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Details of the joint digital promotion between Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and the London Olympics were announced yesterday.

Official 2012 Games artist Michael Craig-Martin has designed the animated feature that revellers will be able to send in e-card format to friends, on top of their photographs of the castle and the Hogmanay celebrations.

An Edinburgh’s Hogmanay spokeswoman said: “This isn’t a replacement for the Olympic rings going on to the castle. The two things were already being planned. Unfortunately, when the castle idea was cancelled, there wasn’t enough time to find an alternative.”

The London 2012 app will be available to download from tomorrow.

Ruth Mackenzie, director of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, said: “We’re excited to be working with Edinburgh’s Hogmanay for our first countdown event which, in this digital age, brings together new technologies and art for celebrations in Edinburgh.”

• ORGANISERS of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations have warned revellers not to leave it to the last minute to buy tickets for this year’s street party after it emerged a string of major events have sold out.

The last few tickets for the Primal Scream-headlined “Concert in the Gardens” at the Ross Bandstand were snapped up last night, while all tickets for the open-air Hogmanay ceilidh and New Year’s Day Loony Dook have gone.

Mild weather is predicted for Hogmanay – in sharp contrast to last year’s ice and snow which was blamed for poor ticket sales.

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However, producer Unique Events says tickets for the street party will be available every day from the Fringe box office on the Royal Mile.

Acts lined up for the street party include DJ Mark Ronson, Friendly Fires, The Vaccines, Frisky & Mannish and Peatbog Faeries.