A giant advent calendar projection will create a stunning visual spectacle at the heart of this year’s Edinburgh’s Christmas events, organisers have announced.
Each evening in December the General Register House at the east end of Princes St will be illuminated with key events of the city’s past – dating back to the 1700s.
The ’25 glimpses of Edinburgh Winters’ will reflect archive material collated from partners including Historic Environment Scotland, National Library of Scotland, and National Records of Scotland and will be animated and set to a soundscape reflective of that year, supporting the end of 2017 as the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.
Edinburgh’s Giant Advent Calendar – which will be delivered by Double Take Projections, the Edinburgh-based firm which recently lit up the new Queensferry Crossing as part of the opening event celebrations – will be visible on General Register House at varying times from 5pm to 10pm every day and will be free to access.
Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, Directors of Edinburgh’s Christmas, said: “This is the fifth year Underbelly has produced Edinburgh’s Christmas on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council and we are extremely excited to be presenting such an ambitious and refreshed programme spreading farther and wider across the city, reaching more communities than ever before: from the free to access giant Advent Calendar on General Register House to the brand new icy Scottish journey of The Ice Adventure on George Street to the breath-taking La Clique Noel taking residence in our Festival Square Spiegeltent on Lothian Road, and Winter Windows on display in Craigmillar and Wester Hailes.
“The economic impact of Edinburgh’s Christmas on the city is growing every year and with the positive effect it has socially on the residents of Edinburgh, we are proud to be able to bring world class winter entertainment to the Scottish capital yet again.”
Underbelly – which also will put on this year’s Hogmanay event – has grown Edinburgh’s Christmas to be one of the biggest seasonal events in the UK, leading to a 46% increase in ticket sales from 2013 to 2016 and an increase in footfall across East Princes Street Gardens and St Andrew Square from 2.4 million in 2013/14 to over 3.8 million in 2016/17.
There were an estimated 917,000 unique visitors last year, 57% from other parts of Scotland and the UK, compared to 43% in 2015 and 38% in 2013. In 2016/17, the event received visitors from 64 countries.
As well as growing its footprint across the city – with events taking place across the city, from East to West, North to South and into community hubs outside the city centre, this year’s event will also feature ‘The Ice Adventure’ – a journey through frozen Scotland, a ticketed event from 17 November to 24 December.
The arctic installation at the west end of George Street is an immersive walk-through experience filled with spectacular ice and snow sculptures. The life-size ice sculptures include Vikings, fairies and Kelpies, Highland cows, eagles and Dolly the Sheep, Robert the Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots and Greyfriars Bobby, as well as the Loch Ness Monster.
The event is being produced by Underbelly and Hamilton Ice, producers of the Ice Kingdom at London’s Winter Wonderland – that event’s most popular and pre-booked attraction. Supported by Shackleton Whisky, the attraction will also feature an ice bar.
John Donnelly, Chief Executive of Marketing Edinburgh said: “The new attractions and planned expansion of Edinburgh’s Christmas offering this year is terrific news for the city. By enlarging the geographical footprint of the festive celebrations across the city centre, we are creating a refreshed destination experience that will crucially encourage residents and visitors to explore further afield, helping them to discover new shops, restaurants and bars.”
Security will also be maintained at levels similar to those in 2016, Wood said. Following recent terror attacks, the national threat level remains at ‘severe’ and as such Underbelly is working with police and other agencies to ensure measures such as barriers (hostile vehicle mitigation) are in place around key sites in the city, such as George Street, St Andrew Square and East Princes Street Gardens.
Wood said: “I think it’s important to emphasise a few things, one is that the threat level is the same as last year. There’s no new perceived threat to Edinburgh at Christmas – security is taken the most seriously of any issues, both by ourselves, the police and all other agencies. There have been and will continue to be lots of different meetings talking about what those different measures are. There will be a range of different measures which we are discussing at the moment. Those security levels will certainly be maintained in 2017 and depending on the assessment they make there may be an increase.”
He confirmed also that bag searches will be in place on December 30 and 31 for Hogmanay and strongly advised people not to bring big bags to events.
For the full programme of events visit here.