The key summer trading period is, and always will be, crucial for our retail and hospitality businesses. It has been positive to hear the many plans that our Festivals have to come back strongly this year, with the International Festival celebrating its 75th anniversary. It is hugely important for the city that we continue our tradition of hosting the world class festivals for our residents and visitors. It is the highlight of the year for many, and certainly it is a busy and exciting time of the year. We look forward in the city centre to hosting events both in outdoor venues and in the many indoor venues spread throughout the area. From the St James Quarter in the east, past St Andrew square, The Assembly Rooms, Freemasons Hall to Johnnie Walker in the west there will be entertainment throughout the area.
An important part of generating the atmosphere in the city centre is the use of outdoor seating areas for extended hospitality. These areas play a key role in animating the streets during the summer and letting residents and visitors enjoy the good weather we do have. We are grateful that the Council are supportive of the principle of utilising parking and loading bays in the city centre to support the hospitality businesses that are able to use the space. It makes a big difference to them and brings a lot of pleasure to many. Once the redesign of George Street is complete, the use of the street for outdoor hospitality will become far easier to manage and I hope, more prevalent.
Part of our role at Essential Edinburgh is to support activity to bring footfall into the city centre all year round. We are therefore delighted to be working closely with city partners on two events coming soon. In March the Van Gogh Alive immersive exhibition comes to Festival Square. This is a truly world class visual treat which has been shown to huge audiences around the world and comes to Edinburgh after successful runs in London, Birmingham and Manchester. It will attract large numbers of visitors to the city as well as residents and with advance ticket sales strong I would urge you to go along and see it for yourself.
The Giraffe About Town project is well under way and we look forward to seeing the large and small giraffes popping up all over the city centre from July. In partnership with the Zoo, we are supporting the educational aspects of the project and it will be wonderful to see the local school’s designs come to life and be exhibited throughout the city streets. We can all look forward with confidence to what this summer brings, I for one cannot wait.
Roddy Smith, Chief Executive, Essential Edinburgh