Column: Edinburgh’s Hogmanay isn’t world class - but it could be.

jPI Media Resell
Edinburgh is home to the world’s greatest Hogmanay celebrations – according to Edinburgh.

The myth is recycled every year by politicians, event organisers and their spinners.

I get the hype, but it’s time we opened our eyes and actually looked at how the rest of the world celebrates Hogmanay, and then improve our own party.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Is standing 40-deep outside Poundland or a sweet shop in Princes Street really as iconic as being in Time Square, New York?

Does the castle really out-dazzle Sydney’s opera house and bridge?

And is our firework show really that awesome?

Look at what Singapore did this year. It added 500 drones to its music and fireworks display, and painted a unique, stunning show across the midnight sky. Now THAT is how the world’s best Hogmanays are done.

Where Edinburgh scores heavily is the city itself – its history and stunning landcapes provide a backdrop with a real wow factor that must surely impress every single tourist.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

From the top of Arthur’s Seat to the dark, towering tenements of the Cowgate, from the stunning architecture of the New Town to the tranquility of Holyrood Park, Auld Reekie has it all, but doesn’t seem to value, or appreciate it – or know how to get the balance right so tourists go away with amazing memories, but the city’s residents get on with their lives.

The crass commercialisation of Princes Street Gardens and its over-rated festive market sit at the heart of the debate .

You may also be interested in:

It is a mess, overpriced, repetitive and filled with the sort of tat which should never be allowed outwith those cringe-inducing tourist shops which blast out synthesised bagpipe music.

In Hamburg the other week, we wandered around half a dozen Christmas markets.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They looked much the same, but the food was a) better and b) cheaper, and they were located across the city.

What if Edinburgh followed suit and broke up the mass market into smaller components?

Create a trail, make it a true destination experience – buzzwords beloved of PR folk – and get the people moving around the city rather than congested in one important green space.

Ditch the hoopla stalls you normally see at the Links Market, bring in quality traders – and open it up to the best Scottish creatives.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Underbelly also needs to start communicating – and stop just reeling off stats galore about how much it earns as if that assuages all concerns. It just makes them sound corporate, remote and greedy.

It needs to get off the back foot and start winning hearts and minds. Some of the flak it copped was unfair. or downright disingenuous, but issues such as access passes for residents should have been explained clearly – not buried online. Inform people, and many of their concerns will disappear faster than the tourists on January 2.

The days of gathering round the Tron with a few cans have gone, but the current model is buckled, if not broken. In 2020 Edinburgh needs to rediscover how to stage a Hogmanay show.