Glasgow City Council scraps Hogmanay street party
What does cancellation actually mean for the city?
The decision by Glasgow City Council to scrap this year’s Hogmanay street party on George Square might have more of an impact on the city’s sense of tradition than on the plans of its regular revellers. While the pride of Scotland’s biggest city may have been swelled by the fact it could sustain an al fresco booze-up of its own without letting many of its residents decamp to the capital, the numbers have clearly stopped adding up. Seventy thousand tourists from around the world attended one of the UK’s largest festival events in Edinburgh on 31 December last year, yet fewer than 5,000 predominantly local party-goers made their way to George Square.
The writing was most likely already on the wall back then, of course, when the organisers decided to forego booking big-name bands (recent years had seen Deacon Blue and Paolo Nutini perform) in favour of a high-concept ceilidh show, which drained the event of any star quality or sense of occasion. For what it had become, Glasgow’s street party won’t be missed. For what this decision represents – the erosion of a little more fun from Scotland’s cultural landscape in the face of ever more tightly-squeezed public budgets – it’s a dispiriting and grimly inevitable turn. Although in all fairness, reported costs of £34 per head are certainly unsustainable, while Glasgow City Council are more supportive of the city’s cultural scene than many other authorities.
So where’s the silver lining? It might not mean much to Glasgow audiences, but Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has at least had its foreseeable future guaranteed (2011–2012’s event will enjoy an inevitable Olympic theme), while families will still be able to enjoy a programme of music, ceilidh dancing and curling on George Square up until 10pm on 31 December, as well as the city’s usual Glasgow Loves Christmas events throughout winter. That Glasgow also enjoys one of the best bar and club scenes in Europe should also help keep the crowds entertained into the New Year. Failing that, you might want to try First Footing.