OPEN air in the square is set to return with a bang this year as the Red Hot Chilli Pipers take to the stage in the Market Square to see in 2013.
A day of New Years celebration is set to take place in the town on top of the traditional Fire balls. With the fireballs already attracting 10,000 revellers a year it is estimated that this New Year could bring some 25,000 people to Stonehaven, second only to Edinburgh.
Committee member of the Stonehaven Hogmanay Festivals, Michelle Ward has been heavily involved in the planning of the event, she explains why she thinks this is so important for the town.
She said: “Recent years have seen local businesses struggle and close. We have lost a number of hotels, pubs and town centre shops over the last few years. Unfavourable publicity over Travellers parking outside the Open Air Pool has reduced visitor numbers.
“Stonehaven also suffered serious flooding in November 2009 and some businesses were closed for six months and others did not reopen. In January 2010 a landslide from the Bervie Braes has resulted in the road from Dunnottar Castle, Stonehavens’ main tourist attraction still being closed, only further adding to the detriment of the town. Since the closure of this road Stonehaven businesses have seen a definite decline in trade. Most castle visitors return to the motorway and by pass Stonehaven altogether.
“Organising an event like this will bring thousands of visitors to the town and provide opportunities to promote the area and the local business to a large audience on the day and also attract national and international media interest which can only be good for Stonehaven.”
With up to 25,000 people expected in the town on the night between the open air event and the Fireballs, there are concerns as to how the town will cope with such an influx of visitors.
With a decline in the number of hotels in Stonehaven in recent years there have been questions about how the town will cope.
Organisers have thought of this and are also trying to address the issue of people parking in the town. Michelle said: “We are trying to fill hotel rooms all over Aberdeenshire once Stonehaven is full and organise park and ride etc. to avoid too much traffic coming to Stonehaven.”
If plans go ahead, the Caravan site should be operating at Hogmanay, whilst this idea has proven to be unpopular with many residents in the town, the Red Hot chilli pipers in Stonehaven on Hogmanay could ensure the site is used to full capacity.
Views on the plans were mixed in Stonehaven this week. One local woman said: “That sounds brilliant, the town is always up for a party at New Year and this will just add to the fun.”
One local man had concerns about the plans. He said: “It all sounds very good but how realistically can Stonehaven support 25,000 people? And 10,000 in the Market Square seems a lot to me.”
For more information on the plans and how to get tickets to the event, see page 2.