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Hogman-no! New Year’s Eve fireworks could be DITCHED in Edinburgh and replaced by drone displays and light shows under new council plans to cut carbon emissions
- Officials in Edinburgh want to reduce the environmental impact of Hogmanay
- The 30-year-old festival provides a massive boost to the Edinburgh economy
- Having been cancelled in 2020 and 2021, officials want to reimagine the event
- However, the new festival will still have ‘a significant midnight moment’
Fireworks could be ditched at Hogmanay festivities in Edinburgh in favour of drone displays and light shows under new council plans to cut carbon emissions.
Edinburgh City Council is seeking new producers for Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay festivals from 2022-2025.
For the Hogmanay celebrations, producers are being asked to deliver the traditional aspects, including a ‘significant midnight moment’ which could include fireworks, drones, lighting or some other major spectacle.
However, they will not have to provide a street party.
The tender specification document states: ‘Whilst previous events have incorporated live music and a large street party, the contractor is not obliged to repeat this format but must propose alternative entertainment that maintains or increases the media and audience impact.’
Pictured: Fireworks and torches on display at an Edinburgh Hogmanay
Signature events like the torchlight procession and street party could be ditched after nearly 30 years if organisers come up with ‘world-class’ alternatives which are still planned to have a ‘significant midnight moment’.
The council insists it wants Edinburgh to remain ‘the home of Hogmanay’ by staging live music, street theatre and light shows as far from the city centre as Leith and Granton.
It has also suggested the three-day new year festival, which up to £810,000 will be available for, could run for much longer, with indoor events staged in theatres and concert venues.
The events industry is being challenged to rethink both events to ensure they are ‘unique to Edinburgh’ and the whole city benefits from them.
The city wants to overhaul its Christmas festival by reducing its impact on Princes Street Gardens.
Although the use of the historic park has not been ruled out, potential applicants to run the event are being warned their plans must make ‘minimal’ use of green space.
The Harbinger Drum Crew leading Edinburgh’s famous Torchlight Procession down the Royal Mile
The main Christmas events could be extended to Festival Square, St Andrew Square, the Grassmarket, East Market Street, the High Street and Parliament Square to cut their environmental impact, avoid overcrowding and spread the economic benefits.
Applicants are also being urged to focus on making the celebrations ‘family friendly’, introduce alcohol-free times or areas at the main festival sites, give priority to existing and new local businesses and creative workers, and extend the Christmas festival out of the city centre.
A search is on for new organisers for the two events, estimated to have been worth £158 million for the economy in recent years, expected to be appointed by June with contracts for three years.
An opinion poll found backing for the events to continue, but raised concerns about their environmental impact, the number of stalls selling alcohol, the cost of tickets for events and attractions, and overcrowding in the city centre at peak periods.
The council has insisted the new-look winter festivals do not need to ‘follow any precedents’ set by previous events.
The only key demand for Christmas is the programme incorporates a lights switch-on event and the traditional Norwegian tree on The Mound.
Signature events like the torchlight procession (pictured) and street party could be ditched after nearly 30 years if organisers come up with ‘world-class’ alternatives which are still planned to have a ‘significant midnight moment’
The council has suggested the Hogmanay festival could still encompass ‘parades’ in future and involve the temporary closure of Princes Street to traffic, but has not published maximum capacities for the kind of big-scale events the city has become famous for.
City council leader Adam McVey said: ‘Through our city-wide conversation with residents, businesses and stakeholders last year, it was clear that there was overwhelming support for the continuation of Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations, but with a revised format.
‘More than 8,600 people and 35 organisations responded to the survey, with 87 per cent expressing support for a Christmas celebration and 86 per cent for Hogmanay.
‘I’m confident that by acting on residents’ feedback, we can remain the home of Hogmanay and ensure our Christmas events, enjoyed by so many across the city, continue in a way that balances residents’ needs and aspirations for how they should look and feel in future.’
Depute council leader Cammy Day added: ‘Our winter festivals are internationally renowned and, from our conversation with the city, we were pleased that the majority wanted Edinburgh to keep its place on the world map for Christmas celebrations and as home of Hogmanay.
‘As well as contributing to the wellbeing of our residents, our winter festivals deliver real economic impact, benefiting tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors in particular.
‘With these new contracts, we want to continue to provide inclusive high-quality festive celebrations, further enhance the city’s reputation and allow the benefits to be shared across our town centres and communities.’
Roddy Smith, chief executive of city centre business group Essential Edinburgh, said: ‘The Christmas and Hogmanay festivals are key drivers for the city centre and are core to the year round sustainability of it.
‘Whilst it is acknowledged there is some benefit from moving events around the city, the public, event producers and business benefits from a central location where you can combine the festival activities with shopping and hospitality.
‘Last year saw a significant reduction in the green space used for events and this worked extremely well.
‘We must be more sustainable and respectful of our environment, but equally must deliver events that the public and business needs.
‘The ice rink on George Street was a great example of what could be achieved without the need to use greenspace.
‘We look forward to working with producers to continue to deliver world-class events that support our residents and businesses whilst also attracting visitors and tourists to our wonderful city.’
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