Edinburgh hotelier is man who saved festive ice rink

Norman Springford Apex Hotels owner Norman Springford stepped in to save the ice rink

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The man who stepped in to save Edinburgh's festive ice rink from being axed can be revealed for the first time.

Norman Springford, who owns four Apex hotels in the capital, said he stumped up the cash after hearing it was about to be cut from the winter festival.

He told the BBC Scotland news website he has pledged to pay up to £25,000 of any losses it makes this year.

It comes as the Christmas and New Year celebrations kick off in the city.

The ice rink's operator made "significant" losses in 2010.

Edinburgh City Council said it was down to Mr Springford's pledge that the ice rink was able to be held this year in Princes Street Gardens.

Mr Springford said people came from all over the world to stay in Edinburgh's hotels for the city's winter festive celebrations.

He said: "I believe every hotelier in the city should contribute to the winter festivities because it is essential for our trade.

"When I contacted Edinburgh City Council about the ice rink they said there were only two or three days to make a decision, so I didn't have time to go round all the hoteliers.

Frost fairy A 14m-high Frost Fairy and a fireworks display open the city's winter festival

"So I decided I was happy to be involved because of the council's cash constraints.

"The ice rink is an integral part of the city's winter festivities. I haven't done this for personal glory."

Tram works have now been suspended to make way for the winter festival.

The tram works, to fix crumbling tarmac around the lines, are due to resume on 9 January.

The full project is due for completion by summer 2014, at a cost of £776m.

Christmas celebrations begin later with Light Night, including street theatre, live music, a 14m-high Frost Fairy and a fireworks display.

The pyrotechnic display starts at 17:15 at The Mound and lasts until 18:00.

The lights on The Mound's Christmas tree, Ferris Wheel and street lights will also be switched on.

Then a pipe band will travel to St Andrew Square for a show starting at 18:15 which includes Britain's Got Talent star, Edward Reid, who turns nursery rhymes into pop songs.

During the winter festivals revellers can travel by horse and carriage along Princes Street as well on the Santa train, both of which run Thursday to Sundays.

Santa will also arrive on Saturday 3 December at 16:00 to pull a huge sleigh down Princes Street before telling stories in the National Galleries.

There will also be reindeer in Princes Street.

Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh City Council's festivals and events champion, said: "It was touch and go whether there would be an ice rink included in this year's programme - I'm pleased that we've managed to reach an agreement that will allow it to go ahead and we are grateful to Essential Edinburgh and, of course, to one very philanthropic individual, for their support."

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