Edinburgh's winter festivals: Complaints should be taken seriously but so should their economic effects – Scotsman comment

The news that Edinburgh council is to ask the people of Scotland’s capital to help shape future Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations will delight some, particularly critics who feel the events have grown too large and cause too much disruption to city centre life.

Edinburgh's winter festivals have proved not to be to everyone's taste but many still enjoy them (Picture: Ian Georgeson)

A 12-week public consultation exercise is being launched today in which people will be able to vote on whether the festivities should continue at all and also be asked more detailed questions, such as whether there should be a funfair or food-and-drink stalls and if they think the events are “too expensive” or “too crowded”, with a view to making changes from 2022 and beyond, when the current arrangements end.

Given that 2.6 million people went to the Christmas market in Princes Street Gardens in 2019/20, while 75,000 attend the Hogmanay street party, it is clear that there are plenty of people who like them – many of whom live in Edinburgh. They will need to be wary of allowing a vocal minority taking over the consultation process.

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But given the level of complaints, it is only right to reconsider how these world-famous events are staged. Even if the detractors are in a minority, their views still matter and should be taken seriously. After all, these are meant to be celebrations; if they are causing problems that is hardly in the keeping with the spirit of the events.

That said, it is also worth bearing in mind – particularly in these troubled times – that the Christmas and Hogmany festivals are worth more than £150 million to the economy, which is a lot of jobs and livelihoods.

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