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Free Dundee Christmas event on the cards to replace firework displays 

An ice rink was set up at Winterfest in Slessor Gardens last year but the event was ticketed.
An ice rink was set up at Winterfest in Slessor Gardens last year but the event was ticketed.

At least one free Christmas event is likely to be held in Dundee this winter as a replacement for cancelled public fireworks displays.

Councillors voted to cancel the free events at Baxter Park and Lochee Park for the foreseeable future for safety and cost-saving reasons.

The council is now considering how best to spend the £50,000 originally allocated for spending on the public pyrotechnics.

‘Alternative event’ on the cards

Councillor Mark Flynn, who is convener of the city development committee, says he is “confident” at least one new free event will be created.

He said: “It was agreed at committee that the funding will be available to the events team to look into providing an alternative event (or events) in this financial year.

“I’m confident that the events team will now have the required time to investigate various options and provide a free event for everyone later this year, with a similar ethos to the summer streets festival, which is also a free event.”

Popular Winterfest

Slessor Gardens played host to a large ticketed Christmas event last year for the first time, organised by a private firm.

The park was transformed for the first time with a big wheel, market, bar, funfair rides and ice rink throughout December.

Winterfest was held at Slessor Gardens.

Councillor Fraser Macpherson, who was one of 13 councillors who opposed the cancellations, has now called for numerous free events to be held this festive season.

Mr Macpherson said: “We’re absolutely adamant that the replacement activity using that £50,000 over the festive season should create two or three free-to-attend events for the Dundee public, rather than money to get in, particularly as we’re in this cost of living crisis and it will be a whole lot more challenging over the winter months on household budgets.”

Macpherson pointed out that this would follow the spirit of previous events held, with the exception of those held last year.

Christmas decorations in City Square in the first year of the pandemic in December 2020.

He said: “The firework events were always free, so it’s only right any replacements are free.

“A lot of the activities last year at Slessor Gardens, marvellous though it was, were expensive to go to.

‘Non-specific’ use of funds

“We felt the council was being very non-specific about what it was actually going to do with the £50,000 saved by not having the fireworks displays.

“We felt there was a lack of a risk assessment in relation to the knock-on effect of not having a fireworks display, given particularly the events bypassed last year because of Covid-19, there wasn’t an organised display or in 2020.

“I fully accept they might not have finalised the Christmas offering yet, but as soon as they make a decision, I’m looking for assurance that it will be free for the Dundee public to attend such events.”


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