City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Worldwide Audience of Up To One Billion Expected For Papal Visit

By edg - Posted on 15 September 2010

There is expected to be a worldwide audience of up to 1 billion people for Pope Benedict XVI's arrival in Edinburgh tomorrow. During his time in Edinburgh (10.30am - 4pm), the Pope will travel around 20 miles through the city.

During that short visit 233 roads will be affected with 13,269 metres of route lining barriers alone.

One thousand pipers and 4000 children will be involved in the day's events, which includes the Papal procession and the St Ninian's Day parade.

These are just some of the papal visit stats that have been released by the City of Edinburgh Council to illustrate the kind of operation that tomorrow's rare visit entails.

"We want anyone coming to Edinburgh for the procession or the parade to have a great experience and a day to remember. But for many others in the city it will be business as usual and we want them to have as little disruption as possible," said Council Leader, Councillor Jenny Dawe.

“While a great number of people already appreciate Edinburgh’s qualities as a place in which to work, study and holiday, I hope that some of those watching the Pope’s first hours in the UK are encouraged to come and see our city for themselves. It is undoubtedly a significant visit and I’m sure that the city will, as usual, rise to the occasion.”

The Pope's visit in numbers

  • 1 billion predicted TV audience
  • 75,000 – 150,000 spectators in the city
  • 4000 children taking part: 1000 Edinburgh school children spectating, 2000 children from other Scottish schools spectating, and 1000 children taking part in St Ninian’s Day parade
  • 1000 pipers taking part in St Ninian’s Day parade
  • 34 Edinburgh schools spectating

Roads and route

  • 233 roads affected by parking restrictions
  • 46 roads affected by access restrictions
  • 30 minutes for the Pope to travel in the Popemobile from the Palace to the Cardinal’s residence (assuming an average speed of 6mph on the 3m route)
  • 20 miles travelled by the Pope in Edinburgh (Edinburgh Airport to Palace of Holyroodhouse – 9m; Palace to Greenhill Gardens – 3m; Greenhill Gardens to City Bypass at Hermiston Gate – 8m
  • 7 crossing points on the route in the city centre
  • 5 coach parking areas

Barriers and signage

  • 13,269 metres of route lining barriers
  • 7,804 yellow no-parking cones
  • 1,664 signs indicating parking restrictions
  • 1,510 metres of road closure barriers
  • 115 red and white cones and 8 signs for traffic management layouts
  • 82 road closed signs
  • 70 manual roads staff working day and night shifts
  • 48 first aid, disabled viewing and Princes Street Gardens signs
  • 36 crossing point signs
  • 25 other traffic signs on barriers
  • 25 advanced warning signs
  • 23 road ahead closed signs
  • 21 traffic information signs on poles
  • 21 lorries
  • 3 low loaders
  • 3 trailers
  • 3 JCBs


  • 173 litter bins removed or sealed
  • 156 stewards
  • 34 first-aiders (working in teams of two)
  • 19 communal bins removed
  • 18 positions for the Union, Saltire, Papal and Inspiring Capital flags on Princes Street
  • 12 hours to return the city to normal (but possibly up to 24)
  • 5.5 hours spent by the Pope in Edinburgh (approx 10.30am – 4pm)
  • 5 platforms for TV cameras
  • 3 hours of BBC1 event coverage (10am – 1pm)
  • 2 cycling paramedics

The Pope's visit to Edinburgh