/Row over replacing nativity scene with whisky ad

Row over replacing nativity scene with whisky ad

Nativity scene, The Mound, EdinburghImage copyright
Craig Brown / Alamy Stock Photo

The organisers of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations have been criticised for removing a nativity sculpture and replacing it with figurines advertising a whisky firm.

The sculpture was removed from a prominent city centre spot along with a giant Christmas tree.

The move has been described as disappointing by church leaders.

But organiser Underbelly said the tree and nativity scene were removed to make way for a giant video screen.

Tens of thousands of people will pack into Edinburgh city centre later for the Hogmanay celebrations, including at The Mound where the nativity scene and tree – a traditional gift to Edinburgh from Norway – were located.

A spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh told The Scotsman it was “disappointed” at the removal.

He added: “The nativity scene brought home the true meaning of Christmas in a brilliant location and we’re disappointed at its premature removal along with the Christmas tree from their position on The Mound.”

New location

Ed Bartlam, a director of Underbelly, told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland, the “real reason” the tree and nativity scene were taken down was to put in a screen to display public safety announcements and content from the Hogmanay event.

He added: “The tree was taken down at the same time as it has been in the last few years and that is all in agreement with the council.

“In terms of the nativity scene, we wanted to put it in St Andrew’s Square, it has been [there] in previous years, we weren’t allowed to do that so we had to find a new location which was agreed with the council.”

Underbelly has faced criticism for the way the city’s Christmas market is organised.

This came after it was revealed last year’s market had no planning permission and this year’s event will not get permission until after it closes in January.

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Image caption

Studies have suggested that Edinburgh’s Christmas events generate more than £100m for the local economy

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