Virgin Money was officially announced today as the title sponsor of the Edinburgh International Festival Fireworks Concert, the 28-year-old, grand finale of Edinburgh's summer festivals.
The event will be renamed the 'Virgin Money Fireworks Concert'.
There had been fears for the future of the EIF's fireworks concert, which is performed each year by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, broadcast live on local radio, and enjoyed each year by an estimated audience of a quarter of a million people, after previous sponsor Bank of Scotland pulled out of its 16 year sponsorship deal worth a reported £4 million.
Virgin Money, the financial services division of Virgin Group, is expanding its base in Edinburgh by recruiting around 300 people and moving to a new headquarters in St Andrew Square.
It is also raising its profile. Last month, Virgin announced sponsorship of "Fringe on the High Street", the free shows on Edinburgh's High Street and the Mound Precinct, as well as the Half Price Hut.
Jonathan Mills, Edinburgh International Festival director said: "Virgin is one of the world’s most innovative commercial brands, and we are delighted that Virgin Money has chosen to partner with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Edinburgh International Festival, a great global cultural brand. The company has already indicated it will be a strong player in Scottish corporate life, and we are encouraged that through this partnership and its sponsorship of the Fringe, it is also engaging with enthusiasm in Edinburgh and Scotland’s cultural life."
While the deal secures the flagship festival event, the EIF has also raised ticket prices to the 45-minute concert in Princes Street Gardens by more than the rate of inflation. Tickets to stand and watch the fireworks in the gardens, directly under Edinburgh Castle, have risen over 13%, from £11 to £12.50 and for seats in the Ross Theatre almost 6% from £26 to £27.50. The fireworks can also be seen for free from vantage points throughout the city.
For the first time, people will be able to buy Princes Street Gardens tickets for the Fireworks Concert when tickets for the Edinburgh International Festival go on sale on Saturday 2 April. These tickets will be on sale until 30 April. This replaces a postal ballot.
A second allocation will be released on 18 July and the final opportunity will be a limited number of tickets held until 10.00am the day before the event, Saturday 3 September.
Over 100,000 fireworks, tonnes of explosives and hundreds of firing sequences are launched from Edinburgh’s iconic castle in a explosive display that is choreographed to live music. It is reckoned to be the biggest fireworks concert in the world.
At the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert this year, the SCO will be playing music inspired by Asia, Arabia and the east, with the evocative Chinese, Russian and Arab Dances from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, Gliere’s rollicking Rebellion from The Red Poppy and Borodin’s Prince Igor.
Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Virgin Money's Chief Executive said: ‘Virgin Money is committed to supporting events which bring communities together and make everyone better off and that is undoubtedly the case with the Edinburgh International Festival Fireworks Concert.”
The Edinburgh International Festival 2011 runs from Friday 12 August to Sunday 4 September.
About Virgin Money:
- Virgin Money was established in 1995 as a joint venture between the Virgin Group and Norwich Union.
- In 1997, Virgin Direct Personal Financial Services Limited launched The Virgin One Account, a joint venture with The Royal Bank of Scotland that offered the UK’s first current account mortgage direct to the retail market. In 2001, RBS bought out the Virgin Group’s stake in the joint venture.
- In April 2004 the Virgin Group took 100% ownership of Virgin Money.
- Virgin Money currently has over 2.5 million customers and offers Payment Cards, Protection, Investment and Pension products. Virgin Money’s brand ambition is to make "everyone better off" – this philosophy underpins our approach to business by offering good value to customers, treating employees well, making a positive contribution to society and delivering a profit to shareholders.