Stonehaven Hogmanay is set for “sell out”

Organisers of Open Air in the Square have said that they believe the Market Square concert and the famous fireballs “will be the second largest event in Scotland and the only event organised by local volunteers”.

The organisers believe all tickets to the event will be sold and they will bring great business to the town and the surrounding area. This week, the Stonehaven and District Lions Club made a donation to Open Air in the Square and George McGillivray, chairman of Stonehaven Business Association also found the charity a major sponsor who are donating £5000 to help fund health and safety costs, which were ever-increasing and saw volunteers even throwing in their own credit cards to help meet the costs.

Organisers say the event has been fraught with difficulties since they first began organising in 14 months ago in a bid to raise community pride and show off what Stonehaven can offer.

First of all, organisers had to first get past the initial hurdle of the first stage where they found many people thought it was a great idea, but doubted that it would be achievable.

The organisers then found that some of the major funding bodies who usually support festivals and events such as Event Scotland and Creative Scotland were unable to support this event in the first year of the event being taken to this new level - mainly due to their inexperience and having no previous track record of running such events at such a high level.

However they found a positive in this and if this year’s event is a success, these two bodies could potentially help out with future events in Stonehaven.

Event Scotland’s “Winter Festival” and Aberdeenshire Council have however been able to support the charity.

Organisers then had an enormous amount of detailed planning to do to produce the Event Safety Plan - a comprehensive document dealing with all aspects of the event including health and safety, traffic plans, crowd management etc. They then had to get approvals from the various regularity authorities (Grampian Police, Fire & Rescue, Ambulance Service, Grampian Emergency Planning Unit as well as Aberdeenshire Council’s Roads Department, Environmental Health and Building Standards Services before a Public Entertainment Licnce could be issued. The organisers will be having a meeting on the 11 December where they hope their conditions will be seen to be satisfactory.

The organisers have got together with hotels and transport companies in Aberdeen to bring people to the town rather than them bringing their own cars. They are also working to have a family funfair in the town for four days over the New Year period.

They’re now looking for help with sponsorship and volunteers. If you’re interested in either, ask for Michelle Ward at the town’s Royal Hotel.