Unique and Underbelly get Edinburgh’s winter fests

Feb 15 2013 | By More

New consortium set to take over Christmas and Hogmanay events

Unique Events founder Peter Irvine at the end of this year's Ne'er Day festivities. Photo © Thom Dibdin

Unique Events founder Pete Irvine at the end of this year’s Ne’er Day festivities. Photo © Thom Dibdin

By Thom Dibdin

Unique Events look set to hang on to their contract to run Edinburgh’s Hogmanay as they join up with Underbelly Ltd to take over the running of both it and Edinburgh’s Christmas Festival.

It had been thought that the recent Hogmanay’s events would be Unique’s last, with the company behind T in the Park looking strong to take over as the events were put out to tender. Instead, Durham-based She’s Gott It Events, which previously ran the Christmas Festival, has lost out.

Edinburgh Council has announced that, subject to approval by the Finance & Budget committee next Thursday (21 Feb), the £1,297,456 contract will go Unique and Underbelly.

Cllr Steve Cardownie, Festivals & Events Champion, City of Edinburgh Council, said: “Edinburgh’s hugely popular Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations and attractions are an integral part of the Scottish festival and events calendar and annually provide a great boost to the economy.

“Through this process, we wanted to ensure that both elements continue to go from strength to strength and remain fresh and exciting every year while, at the same time, transferring the financial risk away from the Council.

“Assuming Committee’s approval next Thursday, we are confident that we can work with the preferred consortium to maintain and improve upon Edinburgh’s global reputation as a pre-eminent festival city and leading winter destination.”

Underbelly is new to the Christmas festival. The company grew out of the Cowgate Edinburgh fringe venue and is now best known for Udderbelly, its big purple cow at the fringe. It also runs the Udderbelly  Festival on the Southbank in London.

According to a joint statement from the new consortium, if confirmed the combined programme will create the largest winter season that Edinburgh has ever seen. At its heart will lie the world famous Hogmanay and a totally re-imagined programme of Christmas events and attractions. Full details of these plans will be announced in due course.

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, Directors of Underbelly, said “We are delighted to be partnering with Unique Events on this very exciting project. Underbelly is born and bred Edinburgh and we’re looking forward to developing our relationship with the city by co-producing Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and Christmas. We truly believe that, with Unique Events, we can make Edinburgh’s combined winter season the envy of the world.”

Pete Irvine, Director of Unique Events, said “It’s been a privilege to be the team that for 20 years has put Edinburgh on the world stage at New Year. – Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2012/13 was once again acclaimed a great success. Now, with Underbelly, we have the opportunity to create a new world class event centred around the entire festive season.”


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