The 2020 Edinburgh’s Christmas lights have been switched on alongside a specially lit 18 metre Christmas Rainbow on the Mound to accompany the tree gifted by Norway.

Photos Ian Georgeson

The Christmas Rainbow symbolises both Edinburgh’s celebration of Christmas and gratitude for front line workers Edinburgh’s Lord Provost and Norway’s Honorary Consul General switched the lights on following an online meeting between the Lord Provost and Vestland County Convenor, Jon Askeland.

Edinburgh looks very different this Christmas to any other year in recent memory.

But despite the lack of any live activity, The City of Edinburgh Council and the producer of Edinburgh’s Christmas, Underbelly, wanted to mark Light Night, the traditional switch-on, which is usually seen by thousands of locals every year, with something different to mark this year – the Christmas Rainbow.

The illuminated rainbow, which sits at over 18 metres wide on the Mound and adjacent to the Christmas Tree gifted to Edinburgh by Vestland in Norway, gives thanks to Edinburgh’s and Scotland’s workers in the NHS and many other emergency services who have given so much during the recent pandemic. The light display provides a one-off festive celebration for Edinburgh.

The Christmas Tree and the Christmas Rainbow were switched on by The Rt Hon Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Frank Ross, and the Honorary Consul General for Norway, David Windmill, on Friday 27 November, after an online meeting between the Lord Provost and the Vestland County Convener Jon Askeland.

Charlie Wood as co-director of Underbelly for Edinburgh’s Christmas said: “There is no denying that Christmas this year will be a tough time for most. Many have lost loved ones and lots of us will be unable to spend the holidays with friends and family due to the Covid-19 restrictions. This was one of the reasons that we wanted to continue the tradition of the Edinburgh’s Christmas light switch on, in a safe and physically distanced way, and, most especially, why we wanted to mark what has been such a negative year with the Christmas Rainbow and the Christmas Tree, as symbols of colour, of light, of celebration, of positivity and of gratitude.”

The Lord Provost said: “Our annual Light Night signals the start for the festive season for me, but this year, like most things, we are doing it differently. Whilst we can’t come together as a city for Light Night, I hope this year’s Christmas rainbow helps us enter the festive spirit, spread some happiness whilst celebrating and paying tribute to those in in our communities, NHS, key workers, volunteers and businesses who have gone above and beyond in this most challenging of years.

“With our partners Underbelly, we are committed to do all we can to bring Christmas spirit to the capital and keep some of our traditions. Our priority throughout remains people’s safety and making sure everything we deliver is Covid-secure.

“The Christmas lights will be switched on throughout the city in the coming days and we hope this helps to create a festive atmosphere and I sincerely wish that we can all have the happiest Christmas we can.”

Edinburgh’s Lord Provost and Norway’s Honorary Consul General David Windmill switched the lights on following an online meeting between the Lord Provost and Vestland County Convenor, Jon Askeland. Photo Ian Georgeson

David Windmill, Honorary Consul General for Norway said: “In a year when there has been so much change and difficulty for us all it was important for Norway to maintain its tradition of gifting the Christmas tree to the City of Edinburgh. This beautiful tree in the centre of the city reflects the gratitude of the people of Vestland on the west coast of Norway for help and support in the past and also the hope that this time next year we shall be celebrating the joyous and traditional Christmas in Edinburgh that we all know so well.”