When news broadcasters put together their highlight reel of New Year fireworks and celebrations, there are a small handful of locales they feature every year. It usually starts with some small Pacific atoll, then they head for the Sydney Harbour Bridge before skipping everywhere else for Edinburgh. Paris? Never heard of it. London, pfft. Okay, so there might be some quick clips of London at give a knowing nod to Greenwich Mean Time. But the truth is, everyone knows that Edinburgh is the place to be when celebrating Hogmanay. The Scots love New Year and demand a party to match.
Here’s why Hogmanay is simply the best...
1. Torchlight Procession
credit: Lloyd Smith We love to get our pagan on, and you can too. Despite the fact Edinburgh was never invaded by Vikings, that hasn’t stopped 35,000 of us dressing up like them on New Year’s Eve Eve, and occasionally burning a longship at Calton Hill with all the pomp and ceremony you’d hope for. To cap it off, there’s fireworks a whole night before the main event. And we’re not even trying to be clever when we say that’s just the warm up.
credit: Grant Ritchie So. Many. Fireworks. It all starts with the torchlight procession, followed by our very own Son et Lumière and the aforementioned Calton Hill fireworks display. On Hogmanay itself there is not one, or two, or even three shows – but four entire fireworks displays, with the Midnight Moment, of course, the daddy of them all. In 2015 it lasted more than five minutes.
3. Concert in the Gardens
credit: Peter Kaminski That being said, the best place to watch the fireworks has to be at the foot of Edinburgh Castle itself. For Biffy Clyro's fans, the fireworks won’t even be the main event as the beloved Scottish rock band work revellers into a frenzy in the Gardens as 2015 headliners. Truly, the front row seat to the biggest party in the world.
4. Street Party
Back in 1996 Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations were the largest in the world, and by ‘largest’ we mean Guinness Book of Records certified World’s Largest. 400,000 people turned out to sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ in (undeniably) perfect harmony. Course, those numbers were completely insane and numbers have lowered since, but Princes Street and the surrounding areas still accommodate a generous number of people without it ever feeling overcrowded. Four stages spread out the party, with the likes of Mark Ronson, Chvrches, Hot Dub Time Machine and Young Fathers stoking up the party mood in recent years.
5. Outdoor Ceilidh
credit: Lloyd Smith Just because there’s a mad party with the biggest names in music rocking four stages, doesn’t mean there’s less room for tradition at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. Kilts and dancing at the ready for the annual outdoor ceilidh next to the National Gallery of Scotland, also boasting fantastic views of the fireworks of the Castle.
6. Christmas Market
credit: Fraser Cameron In the midst of all this, Edinburgh’s Christmas Market is on hand with an ample supply of mulled wine (or cider if that’s your tipple) and hot food to help keep out the cold and make sure you’ve got everything you need for the long night ahead. Not to mention ice skating and the big wheel!
7. Loony Dook
credit: Lloyd Smith Because what better way to wash away 2015 and the night before than a dip in the freezing River Forth under the world famous Forth Bridge? Going for 30 years strong, the Loony Dook has seen costume clad mad hatters take the plunge and raise bucket loads of cash for charity. Even if you don’t fancy joining the dookers, there’s no less fun to be had watching these brave, shivering souls jump in.
credit: Lloyd Smith When everyone else is still in bed or carefully writing their resolutions, you’re out living yours. Well, those of you who wrote down ‘see more live arts at super-secret special venues’. Scot:Lands plays out in Old Town, with the best music, art and theatre curated by Scotland’s most innovative artists and musicians. Previous performers have included King Creosote and Neu! Reekie!.
To cap it all off, here in Scotland you get not one, but two public days off to recover. Yes, we know. You’re welcome.
New Year is such a big deal in Scotland we even have our own name for it: that’s Hogmanay, for anyone not familiar with the local parlance. For proof of just how sacred a ritual sending off the old and welcoming in the new is here, look no further than Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, which from ad hoc roots a couple of decades…