More than £150,000 was needed to reinstate Edinburgh’s iconic Princes Street Gardens after it was turned into a mud bath by the Christmas market.

More than 2.6 million people visited the controversial market, which was held at East Princes Street Gardens for seven weeks.

Pictures of the aftermath showed the gardens in a terrible state, as heritage campaigners urged for a rethink on mass tourism in Edinburgh.

Grass had been entirely worn away in places, and was severely discoloured in other areas.

It has now been revealed the cost of reinstating the gardens was more than £150,000 - three times higher than previous years.

Producers of the Christmas market, Underbelly, paid The City of Edinburgh Council in full for the works as is part of their contract to deliver the event.

But the council also paid an additional £40,000 for drainage work on the site which led to the delay in the gardens reopening fully to the public until just a few weeks ago.

Underbelly said this year there was more ground to reinstate following an expansion of the market for the first time, leading to an increase in cost.

The entertainment company said “no decisions” have been made about 2020’s Christmas Market and Hogmanay which are under threat due to coronavirus.

A spokesman said: “Edinburgh’s Christmas, produced by Underbelly, pays all the costs of reinstating the gardens and no costs are passed on to the council tax payer.

“The drainage works are for long term improvements to the Gardens and are not a direct result of the Winter Festivals taking place.

“While there are active discussions ongoing about the 2020 Winter Festivals, no decisions have yet been made.

“Every aspect of our thinking for 2020 puts Edinburgh’s residents, businesses and communities first.”

Conservative Lothian MSP Miles Briggs said the Christmas market and the Winter Festivals must be “in the best interests of Edinburgh”.

He said: “The dramatic increase in the cost for reinstatement works at East Princess Street Gardens shows the extent of damage caused by the Winter Festival.

“Whilst the Christmas Festival is a popular destination for residents and visitors in December, this must be weighed against East Princess Street Gardens being inaccessible at other times in the year.”

Culture and communities vice convener, Councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan, said: “We appreciate everyone’s patience as work was underway to restore the garden.

“During this time we also took the opportunity to undertake drainage improvement works - the benefit of the drainage is that it will enable the lower lawn to recover much more quickly following heavy rainfall and allow our residents and visitors to have greater use.

“The council will discuss plans for this year’s Christmas and Hogmanay events once the appropriate public health advice is available.”