About us: Introducing the Festival City Volunteers

By Emma Black - Volunteer Development Manager, Festivals Edinburgh 

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Edinburgh’s Festivals are the largest cultural event in the world, with audience numbers on a par with the FIFA World Cup and second only to the Olympic Games. Together, 11 member Festivals come under the Festivals Edinburgh umbrella to form the ‘festivals family’, with the Festival City Volunteers being our newest addition.

The Festival City Volunteer project is about all of us in Edinburgh, celebrating our diversity and unity, and welcoming the world with pride to our Festival City. We aim to bring a true representation of Edinburgh to our summer festivals, connecting all communities, ages and nationalities to form an outstanding group of local ambassadors. We value enthusiasm, team working skills and the desire to be part of our vibrant community.

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Once recruited, our volunteers are trained by a number of organisations, including the summer festivals themselves, Creative Carbon Scotland, VisitScotland, Lothian Buses, Volunteer Edinburgh and City of Edinburgh Council. The training helps our volunteers to develop skills in cultural knowledge, confidence and customer services.

After training the team takes part in a number of test events to try out their skills. This year, the events have included some wonderful experiences assisting both the public and performers at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival Carnival and Social in the Gardens. 

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Once training is complete, it is time to hit the streets of the Festival City. During the summer festivals, our volunteers act as ambassadors for Edinburgh, helping visitors and answering queries. In 2017, our team of 45 greeted almost 9,000 visitors to Edinburgh, answering questions including information on festival shows, city transport and ways to enjoy some of Edinburgh’s marvellous green spaces.

This year, we have expanded to 120 volunteers who will be operating in the Old Town and New Town from 3-27 August, 7 days a week from 10am – 5pm.

During this period the team continues to build its knowledge by participating in special cultural experiences provided by our friends at the summer festivals. These cultural experiences keep us up to date with activities in Edinburgh, and allow the volunteers to give first-hand knowledge of venues, genres and individual festivals, increasing ambassadorial skills and building confidence.

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The volunteers are easily spotted by their bright orange uniforms and cheery demeanour! If you see them, please do say hello, as they love connecting with friends both old and new.

The Festival City Volunteer project continues after August, as we work all year round with Volunteer Edinburgh and our 11 major festivals to bring further volunteering, wellbeing and employability opportunities.

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Thanks to our generous funders and supporters, we are continually growing and strengthening our relationships in Edinburgh. The project has been made possible by a number of diverse partnership spanning culture, tourism, transport, community agencies and the 3rd sector, funding from The Big Lottery and Spirit 2012, and support from Edinburgh Airport and Lothian Buses.

Special thanks go to our wonderful community supporters IntoWork, Access to Industry, The Welcoming, The Thistle Foundation, Central Library, City Arts Centre and St Mary’s Cathedral. If you would like to hear more about the project, please get in touch, with us, and stay tuned for more about us during the summer!

Want to ask a question? Email Emma on emma.black@festivalsedinburgh.com

  • Scottish Government
  • City of Edinburgh Council
  • Creative Scotland
  • Event Scotland
  • Scottish Enterprise
  • British Council Scotland
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