Parking in Edinburgh city centre is to be free from 5pm during the festivals season in a drive to support businesses and keep the heart of the capital thriving over the summer.

The ‘alive after 5’ campaign, run by the City of Edinburgh CouncilMarketing Edinburgh and Essential Edinburgh, will also see many shops extending their opening hours until 7pm. It will run from 6 August until 1 September and could be repeated during December for the winter festivals. Roads in the city centre, west end and east end will all benefit from the scheme, which is also being supported by the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.


Cllr Lesley Hinds, the city’s Transport leader said: “This is a fantastic initiative that will make it more attractive for people to come into the city centre in the August evenings or for workers to stay longer at the end of their day. Edinburgh has a superb range of shops, restaurants and festival venues, and this is all about helping people to spend more time enjoying them during a period which is so important to businesses. While the free parking should encourage visitors to the city centre, there’s also great public transport available, including frequent buses and trains, and several park and ride sites.


Cllr Hinds added: “We know there is pressure on Edinburgh businesses and we are committed to various initiatives that will support them. I’m also delighted that so many firms have put their backing to this campaign, ranging from small independent traders to household names such as John Lewis, Harvey Nichols and Primark.”


Lucy Bird, Chief Executive of Marketing Edinburgh said: “Businesses and shoppers have welcomed similar initiatives before, and recent experience in Manchester and Newcastle shows that it can make a real difference. We could see up to an extra 20% footfall in the city centre and we’re really confident that this will help the shops that are extending their hours as well other traders. Overall, it’s a great partnership between ourselves, the Council, Essential Edinburgh, the Chamber of Commerce and the business community which should benefit everyone involved as well as the public.”


Andy Neal, Chief Executive of Essential Edinburgh said: “We are fully behind this pilot and anticipate that it will help bridge that gap between when shops normally close and when people begin to visit restaurants and cafes. Given experiences elsewhere, we expect the additional opening time to help trading, in particular to be busier than early morning. Anything which helps retailers gain access to more trading opportunities has to be welcomed, particularly when it also aids the general ambience of the city centre.”


The lost income from the free parking is expected to be around £55,000 which will be met by the three partners.

Roads included:


City Centre (normally 6.30pm finish)

  • Charlotte Square
  • Frederick Street
  • George Street
  • Glenfinlas Street
  • Hill Street
  • North Castle Street
  • North St Andrew Street
  • Queen Street
  • St Andrew Square
  • St Colme Street
  • Thistle Street
  • Young Street


West End (normally 6.30pm finish)

  • Ainslie Place
  • Alva Street
  • Atholl Crescent
  • Chester Street
  • Coates Crescent
  • Drumsheugh Gardens
  • Great Stuart Street
  • Manor Place
  • Melville Crescent
  • Melville Street
  • Palmerston Place
  • Randolph Lane
  • Randolph Place
  • Rothesay Place
  • Rothesay Terrace
  • Rutland Square
  • Rutland Street
  • Stafford Street
  • Walker Street
  • William Street


East End (normally 6.30pm finish)

  • Forth Street
  • Little King Street
  • Picardy Place
  • Register Place
  • Union Street
  • Waterloo Place


East End (normally 5.30pm finish)

  • Annandale Street
  • Barony Place
  • Barony Street
  • Broughton Place
  • Brunswick Road
  • Brunswick Street
  • Elm Row
  • Gayfield Square
  • Gayfield Street
  • Hart Street
  • Hopetoun Crescent
  • McDonald Road
  • Montgomery Street
  • New Broughton
  • Windsor Street


Roads within the area not included:


  • Broughton Street (peak hour loading prohibitions; bays not available between 4.00pm and 6.30pm)
  • Leith Walk (“Greenway” parking bays, no charge)
  • North of McDonald Road in the east end (there are no parking charges there).


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