Edinburgh pulls plug on world famous Hogmanay street party

Edinburgh has pulled the plug on its world-famous Hogmanay street party – after council chiefs admitted that revamped celebrations being planned for this year would look “very different” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Edinburgh has hosted an all-ticket street party on Hogmanay since the mid-1990s. Picture: Chris Watt
Edinburgh has hosted an all-ticket street party on Hogmanay since the mid-1990s. Picture: Chris Watt

Event producers Underbelly have announced that all tickets will be refunded for the 75,000-capacity event, which has put the city on the international map for new year celebrations since it was first staged in the mid-1990s.

The company, which has an £800,000 contract to produce the Hogmanay festival on behalf of the city council, said it was “clear to all parties that the famous street party cannot take place in its current form.”

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The cancellation of the street party, the centrepiece of Edinburgh’s three-day Hogmanay festival, will be a major blow to the city’s economy after all its major summer events fell victim to the pandemic.

Around a quarter of attendees at the street party are said to have travelled from overseas in recent years, with 31 per cent from around Scotland and 44 per cent from elsewhere in the UK.

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However detailed proposals for a new-look Hogmanay celebration are expected to be revealed next month.

The street party has been called off in the wake confusion over why tickets were still on sale when it had been confirmed that Underbelly and the city council were in talks to radically revamp this year’s Christmas and Hogmanay festivals in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Senior councillors had revealed they were pressing ahead with the planning of the two events, which have been worth more than £150m to the city’s economy in recent years, following “positive” talks with Underbelly.

However they have admitted that there will be “significant requirements” for the festivities to meet the latest public health guidelines. They have insisted that the winter events should be spread out more across the city and support businesses which have been affected by the prolonged lockdown period.

It is understood that drones could be deployed to create special effects above the city to replace Edinburgh’s iconic midnight fireworks this year.

A spokeswoman for Underbelly said: “Tickets for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay street party have been on sale since January 1st 2020.

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"As has been reported, exciting and positive discussions are taking place between City of Edinburgh Council and Underbelly in relation to the Hogmanay programme for 2020.

"However, it is clear to all parties that the famous street party cannot take place in its current form in 2020 and tickets are being taken off sale.

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"Customers who have booked tickets will be contacted in the next 14 days to be offered a full refund.

"An announcement on the 2020-21 Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme will take place towards the end of August.”

City council leader Adam McVey said: “The Council is having positive discussions on how Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay could be celebrated this year.

"All involved recognise the uncertainty of the current situation and the significant requirements for anything Edinburgh hosts to meet public health guidance.

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"It’s clear that if our 2020 winter festivals go ahead they will look very different from recent years, using different locations across the city.

"It is also important to think more creatively about how to better support our local businesses who have been impacted by the lockdown.

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"Any events will need to give our residents a truly Edinburgh experience that helps discover more of our fantastic businesses that operate all year round.

"Work is underway with our partners to further investigate the feasibility of these new proposals and councillors will agree the way forward in the coming weeks.”

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