The company that has been awarded a three-year deal to deliver the Scottish capital’s winter festivals programme has operated the show at a loss over the last two years.

The firm ran up losses of £214,000 with no profit for taxpayers from the two-year contract.

Unique Events stepped up to operate the Christmas Festival two years ago after Angels Event Experience, which later folded, pulled out of its contract for the festive spectacular.

The key components of Edinburgh’s Christmas were market stalls and funfair rides in George Street, East Princes Street Gardens and Mound Precinct, Festive Family Funfair in West Princes Street Gardens, Festival of Kindness in St Andrew Square and an ice rink on George Street.

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Overall footfall across all the sites was measured at over three million over the 51 days of Edinburgh’s Christmas, up from 2.4 million in 2022/23.

The Herald: Edinburgh’s Christmas provided a number of community benefits to residents, with over 7,500 tickets given to 90 local charities and community groupsEdinburgh’s Christmas provided a number of community benefits to residents, with over 7,500 tickets given to 90 local charities and community groups (Image: Edinburgh City Council)

The Big Wheel attracted over 210,000 people, up from 140,000, Santa Stories in West Princes Street Gardens was attended by over 11,000 children, against 9,000 the year before and the ice rink on George Street attracted 72,000 skaters, against 66,650.

Papers to go before councillors today show: “The contract with Angels Event Experience Limited was terminated and a contract award for Edinburgh’s Christmas was made to Unique Assembly Limited.

“The contract was for a period of two years, comprising one initial year with an option to extend for one additional year.”

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An extension was agreed in early 2023. It said Edinburgh’s Christmas operates on profit split model between the contractor and the council.

However, it said that "over the course of the contract, a loss of £214,000 was borne by the contractor resulting in no return to the council".

The papers added: “It should be noted that the contractor did not charge a management fee for the delivery of this contract. Industry standards would place this between 10-15%.

“However, the council still receives a significant income from charges (site hire fees, licensing costs, planning fees).

“This total is £336,000 for the delivery of Edinburgh’s Christmas and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2023/24.”

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It added: “The council has completed tendering for a new combined Edinburgh’s Winter Festivals contract for 2024/25 onwards. This will align with the existing contract for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, which is due to expire in July 2025.

“The planning for future years will be commenced shortly with regular contract management meetings, event planning and operation groups and updates to the all party oversight group on festivals and events.”

The council said: “Broadly, all key performance indicators were met or very close to target.

“The number of local businesses trading at Edinburgh’s Christmas was slightly below target, as were audience feedback figures. However, neither measure is significantly below target and do not represent a failure to deliver the contract.”

The council earlier approved the three-year award of a contract for Edinburgh winter festivals to Unique Assembly, the lead for a consortium which includes Assembly Festival Limited and Unique Events Limited and said that “the estimated rental income will range between a minimum of £405,000 and £1.5 million over the three-year course of the deal.