A total of 2,631,154 people passed through Edinburgh’s Christmas in East Princes Street Gardens, representing a significant 4.85% increase in footfall on 2018. Thanks to the re-design of the space, this year’s Christmas Market was not only able to easily accommodate the increased number of visitors but also protect the Gardens and improve its accessibility through new accessible pathways which were met with a great response from visitors with additional mobility requirements. For the first time, and in partnership with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, free to hire sensory backpacks were also available for adults and children with additional needs, making Edinburgh’s Christmas 2019 the most accessible yet.
Edinburgh residents snapped up 196,656 tickets using their 20% EH postcode discount, an impressive increase of 23.9% on the same events in 2018. (The total number of EH postcode discount tickets sold in 2018 was 186,799 and the 23.9% increase to 2019 is calculated by excluding Silent Light, ice skating in St Andrew Square and shows in Festival Square Spiegeltent, events which didn’t recur in 2019).
648,397 tickets were sold to the various Edinburgh’s Christmas events, attractions and rides, a 1.5% increase on the same events in 2018. (The total number of tickets sold in 2018 was 771,004 and the 1.5% increase is calculated by excluding Silent Light, ice skating in St Andrew Square and shows in Festival Square Spiegeltent, events which didn’t recur in 2019).
An estimated audience of 3,000 enjoyed Community Christmas, a free, family celebration which brought festive cheer to 12 different communities around Edinburgh, including The Inch, Wester Hailes and Gilmerton, as they enjoyed performances from their local choirs and singing groups alongside festive projections designed by Double Take Projections.
Other highlights included Father Christmas literally flying up the Royal Mile on his sleigh at Light Night (17 November), wowing all present as he sprinkled festive spirit and switched on the city’s Christmas lights. This spectacular free family afternoon also saw 175 local singers and dancers from 5 community groups perform on stage in front of a crowd of 15,000.
Chosen out of 1,680 superb entries, the 40 winning Winter Windows designs, this year themed around ‘A Festive Welcome’, adorned Edinburgh streets showcasing the talents of the city’s budding young artists.
The season also saw Edinburgh’s Christmas give away 17,559 free tickets, including 6,000 to the The Trussell Trust’s food banks, 5,000 to groups supported by Edinburgh’s OneCity Trust. A further 2,379 tickets were donated to looked after and cared for children in Edinburgh, 897 to Goodtrees Community Centre which works directly with families affected by poverty offering free food and activities and aims to reduce social isolation and 754 tickets to Canongate Youth supporting children and young people who face the challenges of multiple deprivation, with many of them a victim of abuse or negligence, struggling with mental health issues, or having learning or physical disabilities.
(The total number of free tickets given away in 2018 was 27,360 and the 173% increase is calculated by excluding Silent Light, ice skating in St Andrew Square and shows in Festival Square Spiegeltent, events which didn’t recur in 2019).
Edinburgh’s Christmas raised over £10,000 in support of Edinburgh and Scotland-wide charities, including:
Every year, Edinburgh’s Christmas works very closely with The Trussell Trust food banks around the city, encouraging residents to donate non-perishables, toiletries and unwanted Christmas gifts to a food bank donation point located at the Christmas Market in Princes Street Gardens.
Edinburgh’s Christmas also works to maximise local sourcing from within Edinburgh and Scotland. In 2018/19, Edinburgh’s Christmas spent over £1.22m with 105 Edinburgh suppliers and a further amount of £721,000 with 10 suppliers from other parts of Scotland. Figures for 2019/20 will be released in due course.
The Christmas Market de-rig, currently underway, is scheduled to complete on 20 January. Underbelly is contracted to meet the costs of reinstatement within East Princes Street Gardens and Underbelly has been in discussions with City of Edinburgh Council about how to re-turf the Gardens as quickly as possible following the end of the de-rig period.