On 1 October, the City of Edinburgh Council, alongside the organisers of the ‘Edinburgh’s Christmas’ events, made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s festivities including the beloved Christmas markets in Princes Street Gardens and the world-renowned Hogmanay celebrations across the city centre.
Throughout the summer, event organisers and city councillors had been closely monitoring the ever changing public health guidelines with the initial hope of producing a socially distanced event that ensured the safety and wellbeing of Edinburgh’s residents whilst allowing market traders and local businesses the opportunity to trade during one of their most lucrative seasons.
However, over the past few weeks it had become clear that hosting such an event, which would attract large crowds and visitors from further afield than the local area, would not be feasible due to the ongoing attempts by the Government and the NHS to control the spread of the Coronavirus.
Despite the decision being made in the best interest of the city, the event organisers acknowledged that this may cause some disappointments.
Cllr Adam McVey, Council Leader at City of Edinburgh Council, wrote on the official Edinburgh Christmas markets website:
“Christmas is a special time in our city and hugely exciting for individuals and families who take advantage of the City’s winter offer.
“We want to be clear that Edinburgh’s Christmas isn’t cancelled and our businesses right across the City will be offering their usual festive cheer for us to take advantage of.
“We look forward to announcing details of an innovative digital 2020 programme soon to help in these celebrations.”
Cllr Cammy Day, Depute Leader at City of Edinburgh Council, said:
“Christmas is usually an extremely special time for our Capital city and, as well as contributing to the wellbeing of our residents, our Winter Festivals deliver real economic impact, benefitting tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors in particular.”
This is not the first blow by the virus to the entertainment, hospitality and retail industries in Edinburgh, as the beloved Edinburgh Fringe Festival was cancelled under similar circumstances in August for the first time in over 70 years since its creation in 1947.
For a city that usually makes huge profits off the thriving tourist industry, particularly during August and December, these cancellations could be fatal for small businesses and independent entertainers across the city.
However, there have yet to be any announcements of further protective or supportive measures being made for those worst affected by these cancellations.
Last week Chancellor Rishi Sunak suggested in an ITV News interview that musicians and other creatives might be best off retraining in another industry and finding a new job for the time being, as live entertainment and events are most likely to be the last industry to get back on their feet after the pandemic is over.
“I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job that they were doing at the beginning of this crisis.” He stated. “Everyone is having to adapt.”
As with many other events in 2020, the organisers of the city’s Christmas festivities have tried to adapt to the current climate and are proposing to put on a number of events and activities online, with further information about this to be released in the coming weeks.
Image: Alasdair via Flickr