Public to be blocked from summer shows in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens by a 'giant curtain'

Summer Sessions in Princes Street Gardens. Picture: Contributed
Summer Sessions in Princes Street Gardens. Picture: Contributed
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Concerts in Princes Street Gardens this summer will be shielded from the public by a “giant curtain” that will be drawn when stars perform for ticket-holders.

Last year, a row erupted after boards were put up to stop people peeking into the gardens to catch a glimpse of the Summer Sessions concerts. This year, the curtain will be opened and closed when performances are taking place – including from Lewis Capaldi and Florence and the Machine.

READ MORE: Princes Street Gardens barriers blocking views to be removed

The council’s public safety manager, John McNeil, said: “When the screens are not there, there’s significant number of people there and significant people trying to congregate on Princes Street.

“It results in us having to close the road and put the trams off.”

Cllr Scott Arthur questioned whether the curtain would be an eyesore.

He added: “This is going to be detrimental to the view of the caste from Princes Street. You want to use the whole of gardens rather than just the bandstand – but that means we have to close the gardens to the public.

“We are stopping people access parts of the public park for a longer period of time than last year.”

But Archie McIvor, speaking on behalf of DF Concerts, said the screening was in place “for safety reasons”.

He added: “It was not there to stop people seeing the concert for nothing. The type of screening this year is more of a giant curtain operation – it’s pulled back like a giant curtain.

“The curtain will be supervised so it remains closed when it should be.”

The city council’s licensing sub-committee agreed a temporary public entertainment application for the concerts.

READ MORE: Princes Street barriers removed - but pavement closes to stop free view

A DF spokesperson said: “We’ve taken on board all of our findings from last year into the planning for Summer Sessions in Princes Street Gardens this year, which will see seven world-class acts perform nine shows in the heart of the city.

“External perimeter screening is essential for managing public safety on the surrounding streets as the concerts could grab the attention of passers-by on Princes Street, causing them to congregate. This screening is a requirement set out by City of Edinburgh Council’s safety advisory group and is a condition of our licence approval process.

“Taking this lead from the City of Edinburgh Council, we have worked closely with council officials on plans for a retractable infrastructure, which will effectively work like a series of curtains, that can be deployed quickly and easily to allow access to Princes Street Gardens during the day before the shows whilst still maintaining public safety during the shows.”