Feedback has been published on the future of Edinburgh’s Winter Festival following a 12-week consultation - and has revealed that 87% of surveyed respondents are in favour of Edinburgh’s Christmas with a further 86% in favour of the capital’s Hogmanay celebrations.

The Winter Festivals Public Consultation Report surveyed 8,612 people between February and May of this year and sought feedback from the Capital’s residents, communities and businesses on the events from 2022 onwards, after the current contract ends. 

Respondents were asked about their experiences of winter celebrations in the Capital, as well as what activities they would like to see included in future.  Overall, results showed a wish to continue to provide high quality Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations which will be valued by residents and visitors and to also provide events that will continue to enhance Edinburgh’s reputation, and to make changes to past formats and avoid overcrowding and improve access.

Over 90% of those surveyed had attended Edinburgh’s Christmas in the past and over half of tickets for this year’s Hogmanay celebrations - Party at the Bells - have been purchased by those living in EH postcodes, proving the Winter Festivals are a firm favourite with locals.

Of businesses surveyed in the city, 73% said that the Winter Festivals contributed to an increase in their turnover and footfall.

Locals overwhelmingly agreed (92%) that the Winter Festivals are welcoming to tourists and other visitors.

Underbelly, the producers of Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council, have incorporated feedback from previous events in this year’s programme, all of which echoes the findings in the survey.

Answering 39% of respondents wish for the celebrations to be spread throughout the City Centre, the organisers of Edinburgh’s Christmas have extended the celebrations to the West End of the city this year with events in West Princes Street Gardens and the ice rink on George Street, driving footfall to the wider city centre areas.

READ MORE: Edinburgh Christmas market 2021: Where, opening times and dates

The survey also highlighted that some (27%) were concerned about the environmental impact of the Winter Festivals, which is being addressed by Festivals Edinburgh Carbon Reduction Road Map, including a 50% reduction in use of diesel generators, to be replaced by cleaner fuel generators or mains power by 2025.

Concessions for disabled and elderly people, as well as discount for young people were also requested and are already offered as part of the Winter Festival programme.

Underbelly Co-Directors, Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam said: “The views of local Edinburgh residents and businesses are always at the forefront of our planning for Edinburgh’s Winter Festivals so to have nearly 90% approval for our programming is hugely encouraging. In advance of seeing this report and in the planning of this year’s events, we think we’ve taken many of the recommendations on board and based on the response to date, the events are being hugely enjoyed by Edinburgh residents. 

“That said, reports like this are extremely valuable and we shall wait to see how the Council decides to move ahead next year before deciding whether to throw our hat back in the ring.”

Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey said: “Firstly, I want to thank all those who took the time to take part in the consultation – we had an excellent response and the views of people in Edinburgh will shape the future of these events. Our Winter Festivals have grown in size and popularity over the years and have created some amazing experiences and images that has shown Edinburgh at its best.

“However, if we’re to make the fun and enjoyment of winter sustainable, we must listen and respond to the views of our residents and other stakeholders. Through this major consultation, we’ve got a better idea of how they regard the celebrations, both positive and negative.

The results are very encouraging but, as expected, respondents highlighted a range of issues that we will factor into our planning for future years.

“Some of these issues were already known to us, particularly in relation to pressure on the city centre, and this year’s lay-out reflects this as we look to respond to concerns and aspirations of residents and business.  But we know from the positive experiences of the summer festivals that we can and must do more to spread the benefits across our communities.”

Today (Nov 25), the Scottish Government announced a £430,000 funding boost to Scotland’s Winter Festivals celebrating St Andrew’s Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night.

Scottish Government Culture Minister Jenny Gilruth said: “Scotland’s Winter Festivals bring a much-needed brightness and joy to the winter darkness and I’m very pleased that the Scottish Government is contributing up to £430,000 to the programme of events.

“The past year has been challenging for everyone so the government is proud to fund a programme of events that bring people together from near and far to showcase our world-class culture and heritage as well as our values of fairness, kindness, inclusivity and empowerment.”