Underbelly’s big purple cows have barely been deflated after the Fringe and geese getting fat in the Capital is a matter of guesswork but Christmas is definitely coming. And this year it is coming in grand style to Edinburgh.
In the West End’s fabulous venue Ghillie Dhu, the exciting and extraordinary programme that kicks off on 22 November 2013 and runs to 05 January 2014 was announced.
Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood of Underbelly said they were "exceedingly proud to be involved in producing the Christmas celebrations, both for the people of Edinburgh to enjoy and to encourage visitors to come to this great city.”
The programme involves a step change from previous years as it extends the limits beyond the Mound Precinct and East Princes Street Gardens to encompass George Street, St Andrew Square and Summerhall.
Edinburgh's Festivals & Events Champion, Councillor Steve Cardownie said, “Edinburgh’s winter festivals are an integral part of the Scottish events calendar and this fresh and exciting programme proves that, once again, the Capital is the place to be at Christmas time.”
The magnificent 635-seat Paradiso Spiegeltent will be housed in St Andrew Square where it will play host to the international circus sensation, LIMBO, that comes direct from Australia and London’s Southbank before it heads to the Sydney Festival and an international tour in 2014. It will also host Les Petits Theatre Company's epic puppet adventure, Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs (winner, Primary Times Children's Choice Award at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe); and the world premiere of Little Red Riding Hood, by local Edinburgh company Nonsense Room Productions. The Scottish Café will be offering audiences an exclusive and original experience of a delicious dinner cooked by their award winning chefs and served in a private booth in the Spiegeltent, prior to a performance of LIMBO.
The Big Wheel that has become a landmark of the Capital’s season will appear in the form of a Dutch-made Ferris wheel that is as high as eight buses, dazzling with 20,000 lights and, maybe most important in our freezing winter weather, equipped with cosy, covered pods!
A new thrill on the skyline will be The Star Flyer on the south side of St Andrew Square. The 60 metre free-standing ride that looks like a giant chairoplane in the sky will give exciting never- before- seen views of Edinburgh. The skating rink is being moved to beside the Scott Monument and in its place will be Edinburgh's first ever Christmas Tree Maze; a sparkling, shining 300 tree-strong labyrinth at the heart of which sits Santa’s Workshop.
There will be a Scottish Market and a Children’s Market, each capitalising on local firms and companies and timeously complementing the established European markets at the Mound precinct and Castle Street. 2013 Festival Fringe hit, Hot Dub Time Machine, returns to Summerhall for 10 nights to take revellers on a voyage through the history of popular music from 1954 to 2013.
Another new event is Decorate Edinburgh which allows 100 businesses from Edinburgh to collaborate with local artists or their own team to decorate a Christmas tree in a seasonal way to promote their wares and to engage with the local community. The results will form part of the Decorate Edinburgh tree trail.
On Sunday 24 November 2013, 2.30pm to 5pm it is Light Night when along with music, singing and dancing, is the switching on of the Christmas lights of central Edinburgh by Edinburgh local Sir Chris Hoy, the eleven time-world champion cyclist and winner of seven Olympic gold medals.
And before Christmas, is St Andrew’s Day! Unique Events will be hosting a very special day of events in the Grassmarket to celebrate this national event.
Between 2pm – 10pm on Saturday 30 November 2013, there will be performances from some of Scotland’s very best contemporary folk musicians as well as storytelling, music workshops and a spectacular outdoor Ceilidh with a stellar line-up of artists.
Pete Irvine, Director of Unique Events, whose Hogmanay events celebrate 21 years this year, said “With this exciting and reinvigorated Christmas Programme, and the world renowned Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Celebrations, the city will become the go-to destination for visitors around the world this winter.”
This is a programme full of delights designed to un-humbug the Scroogiest of Scrooges! Happy days!
Light Night: Sunday 24 November 2013, 2.30pm to 5pm
Now taking place on a Sunday, Light Night will allow as many families as possible to enjoy the event. The theme is the Twelve Days of Christmas. A number of stages will be erected along the length of George Street and 60 local school and other community groups – with an estimated total of 850 performers - will present performances, dances and recitals for each of the days of Christmas.
Light Night will be hosted by Arlene Stuart of Forth Radio.
Among the schools and community groups performing will be: 17 primary schools; 3 secondary schools; Dance Base: the Community Dance Project; Craigmount High School Pipe Band; the Hula Honeys; Pulse of the Place; Sing in the City; and the BIG Project Youth Choir.
The Christmas Tree on the Mound, a gift from the Hordaland County Council in Norway, will be lit as part of the Light Night switch-on and musicians from Hordaland in Norway will lead the Street in celebration and song, to be joined by the Edinburgh Rock Choir and the Edinburgh Gorgie Salvation Army Band.
The event will culminate with Sir Chris Hoy, the eleven time-world champion cyclist, winner of seven Olympic gold medals and Edinburgh local, switching on the Christmas lights of central Edinburgh.
Light Night is held in aid of Radio Forth Cash for Kids: the charity which has been working for over 30 years to improve the lives of children in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife who are sick, disabled or disadvantaged through poverty.
St Andrew’s Day 2013
On November 30th the world celebrates St Andrew’s Day, Scotland’s national day. There will be parties galore around the world and, produced by Unique Events, Edinburgh will be hosting a very special day of events in the Grassmarket to celebrate.
Taking place between 2pm – 10pm on Saturday 30 November 2013, the programme will include headline performances from some of Scotland’s very best contemporary folk musicians, storytelling, music workshops, a spectacular outdoor Ceilidh with a stellar line-up of artists.
St Andrew Square
St Andrew Square will host the magnificent 635-seat Paradiso Spiegeltent, which will present LIMBO, the international circus sensation, direct from Australia and London’s Southbank before it heads to the Sydney Festival and an international tour in 2014.
The Paradiso Spiegeltent will also host some of the most exciting family entertainment on offer in Edinburgh at Christmas: in the form of Les Petits Theatre Company's epic puppet adventure, Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs (winner, Primary Times Children's Choice Award at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe); and a new interpretation of the children's classic Little Red Riding Hood, in a world premiere by local Edinburgh company, Nonsense Room Productions, the creative producers of the much loved stage production of Hairy Maclary.
The Scottish Café at Edinburgh's Christmas will be offering audiences an exclusive and original experience: a delicious dinner cooked by their award winning chefs and served in a private booth in the Spiegeltent, prior to an electrifying performance of LIMBO.
Other highlights of St Andrew Square include:
The Scottish Market: shortly before 2014 - the year in which Scotland will build its international reputation as 'A Land of Food and Drink', the Scottish Market brings to Edinburgh’s Christmas some of the very finest local cuisine, including offerings from the Scottish Cafe at Edinburgh's Christmas, Susie's Diner, Spencerfield Spirit’s Edinburgh Gin, Chocmotif, the Eden Brewery and the Wild Game Company.
The Children's Market: featuring a range of hand-crafted toys and other unique gifts in a fun, safe environment which gives kids an exciting, independent craft making and shopping experience, including Imagination Workshop’s Christmas craft workshop, a Gingerbread decorating workshop, Toys Galore of Edinburgh and personalised Santa gift sacks and Christmas stockings.
The Star Flyer: on the south side of St Andrew Square, the Star Flyer, a 60 metre free-standing ride, provides heart-stopping thrills for the adventurous and the not-so-adventurous alike. See Edinburgh as you have never seen it before... (maybe) with your eyes closed.
The Mound Precinct and East Princes Street Gardens: 22 November to 5 January 2014
The Big Wheel: perhaps the most visible sign that the festive season's arrived in Edinburgh, the Christmas Wheel returns to Princes Street Gardens: this time with cosy, covered pods. As high as eight buses and bejewelled with 20,000 lights, the Dutch-made Ferris wheel is a joyful and kaleidoscopic addition to Edinburgh's famous festive skyline.
Ice Rink: that great Edinburgh Tradition, the Ice Rink, will literally be moving up a level, on to the Princes Street Gardens Terrace, to provide a boutique skating experience like no other, overlooked by the magnificence of the Scott Monument.
The Christmas Tree Maze: Edinburgh's first ever Christmas Tree Maze; a sparkling, shining 300 tree-strong labyrinth at the heart of which, if you can find it… sits Santa’s Workshop. Take your children and find your way through the Maze in a unique, magical Christmas experience.
The European Market: a revamped Christmas market returns to the Mound Precinct and extends into East Princes Street Gardens, with an eclectic and quality range of stalls from across northern Europe, selling artisan, hand-made arts and crafts and taste bud popping food and drink.
Advent Concert, 1 December 2013, 5pm
In conjunction with St Andrews and St Georges West and Edinburgh Churches Together, a carol concert will be held on the first day of Advent around the Nativity Scene, generously donated to Edinburgh by Sir Tom Farmer, and located in St Andrew Square.
Summerhall, 4 December to 21 December 2013
The sell-out hit of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013, Hot Dub Time Machine: Best. Party. Ever, makes a triumphal return to Scotland for 10 exclusive nights. This prime time extravaganza in the iconic Summerhall will be a seismic, rollicking interactive voyage through the history of popular music as DJ Tom Loud take revellers from 1954 to 2013 in the world's first ‘boogie-powered’ time machine. From Rock Around the Clock to Daft Punk, it's your dancing that keeps the party ‘powered-up’ and moving through pop music history.
This year will also see the introduction of Decorate Edinburgh, a new event for Edinburgh’s Christmas, which allows businesses and artists to collaborate on unique Christmas tree installations. 100 businesses from Edinburgh will be part of Edinburgh's Christmas, working with a local artist or their own team to decorate a Christmas tree which will form part of the Decorate Edinburgh tree trail.
Decorate Edinburgh provides businesses with a seasonal way to promote their offering and to engage with the local community; it helps decorate Edinburgh at Christmas time; and it helps local charities, with profits from Decorate Edinburgh being donated to Cash for Kids, Sunflower Garden and Edinburgh Clothing Store. The trees are supplied by Bethany Christian Trust Caring Christmas Trees project.
Photo credit: David Solm