Edinburgh in danger of losing Hogmanay crown

For years it has proudly proclaimed itself to be the best New Year venue in the world; the undisputed king of the Hogmanay party boasting bands, fairground rides and fireworks and that tempts thousands of revellers from across the globe to take to Edinburgh's city centre streets.

But, this year, cracks are appearing in the once-untouchable street bash and there are growing concerns that the city could be about to be stripped of its title as Hogmanay heavyweight.

A slump in numbers, a lack of money and a bitter row between organisers and the council are the main factors in a sorry tale which could mean the end of the Scottish capital's legendary end-of-year status.

Those in Edinburgh's corner will point to the sold-out banners on the official website when attempting to defend the city's reputation as party champion.

What the site doesn't boast is that tonight's attendance is capped at 100,000- less than the 180,000 that descended on the city in 2000, and not a patch on the 300,000 that attempted to pack the streets in 1997.

That dangerous peak forced organisers into cordoning off Princes Street, the party's focal point, and charging for tickets. However, numbers have dwindled since then and plans are already afoot to make the event free again, possibly as soon as next year.

The city council is also planning to move part of the evening indoors a proposal that Pete Irvine, the event's mastermind, is strongly against.

The party's outdoor setting makes it particularly vulnerable to the weather and the council is mindful that twice in the last four years the Hogmanay party has been cancelled.

Mr Irvine came out fighting last year after bad weather forced cancellation on the day of the event. He attacked councillors' suggestions that sections of the party be held indoors.

But, should it come down to a face-off between Mr Irvine and the council, the establishment has already shown it isn't afraid of cutting adrift the man who has held the event's contract since 1993.

Mr Irvine was told in August that he would play no part in organising the city's Christmas festival an event he has been involved in since 2000. Instead, the council handed the contract to a Durham company.

And Mr Irvine could lose his beloved New Year's slot too; the council has invited other companies to sample tonight's event before bidding for the contract next year. Mr Irvine has said tonight's event is make-or-break. "The last couple of years have been difficult. A very major part of its future depends on this year."

And if hotel bookings are a barometer of the party's popularity, it could be "break". In previous years, hotels were sold out months in advance. Last week, many still had rooms available and hostels were advertising beds.

One of the main threats to the city's crown is the threat from events in other cities. Glasgow has a relatively successful celebration in the city's George Square. However, with only 15,000 tickets on offer, it is some way off matching the Edinburgh experience.

London, too, is a likely claimant to the party throne. This year it is expecting 350,000 people to celebrate New Year with a huge fireworks display at the London Eye.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there