Edinburgh’s famous Christmas and New Year celebrations have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The city council and event organisers Underbelly have announced that, following advice and discussions with public health experts, the festival cannot go ahead as planned this year.
With national restrictions on gatherings and the potential strain on services over the winter, focus will move away from crowded gatherings like the Hogmanay street party and Christmas markets.
Instead of stalls, rides and live on-stage performances, events will be streamed online, with details to be announced in due course.
It’s another blow for the city, which saw its world-renowned summer festivals called off when the pandemic hit.
Councillors hope, however, that the city will still be able to offer some Christmas cheer.
Councillor Adam McVey, City of Edinburgh Council leader, said: “As we’ve continued to adapt to the changing circumstances presented by the pandemic, we’ve continued to work with our partners to develop potential plans for events, which could meet public health guidance, to mark the end of what has been one of the most challenging years in living memory.
“However, as we’ve maintained throughout, our utmost responsibility is to keep our residents safe. Following the latest restrictions and through the development of plans, it became apparent that activities for Christmas were not going to be possible.
“Christmas is a special time in our city and hugely exciting for individuals and families who take advantage of the City’s winter offer. Whilst we understand the absence of popular events will bring some disappointment, 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, added: “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.
“Whilst, of course, we’re extremely disappointed we won’t be able to go ahead with public events and the city centre sites this year, our absolute priority must always be the health and wellbeing of the public, traders and the city as a whole and to follow public health advice.
“l would like to thank Underbelly and our other event partners for all their work as we tried to plan for Christmas in an evolving situation and, whilst Christmas 2020 will take a different shape this year, rest assured the city of Edinburgh will celebrate Christmas.”
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