Bringing in the New Year is done a little differently in Scotland and the Scottish capital is well known for hosting some of the liveliest New Year’s Eve events in the world. Called Hogmanay by the Scots, New Year’s Eve events in Edinburgh are preceded by four days of festivities (a tradition dating back over 400 years), with crowds of 250,000 descending on Edinburgh for one of the biggest and wildest parties of the year. If you’re in Edinburgh in winter, be sure to pre-book your tickets for the main Hogmanay shows or plan your trip around the free events. Here’s a breakdown of the festivities to get you started.
December 29th: The Torchlight procession
Hogmanay kicks off in style, with thousands lighting up their flaming wax torches and taking to the streets for a torchlight procession. The evening’s entertainment starts out from Parliament Square at 6pm, winding its way through the city streets to Calton Hill, where it ends with the ceremonious burning of a Viking long-ship, a nod back to the festival’s pagan roots.
December 30th: The ‘Night Afore’
Get your party spirit in check, because tonight’s when the festivities really kick off, with an enormous open-air Ceilidh (a traditional Celtic party) with live music and entertainment performed from stages erected around the city, and the streets descending into celebratory mayhem.
December 31st: New Year’s Eve
Finally, Edinburgh erupts into a gigantic street party, with more live entertainment, street-side bars and special ticketed party events, like the Concert in the Gardens, headlined by huge international acts, and the Hoog dance party. At midnight, four and a half tons of pyrotechnics set the Edinburgh skyline ablaze, and wherever you are, you’re sure to be joining in with a raucous rendition of the classic Scottish song ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
January 1st: New Year’s Day
Hold off on the hangovers for another day, for the celebrations still aren’t over. Now is the time to let off steam with some of the city’s silliest events – fancy dog sledding across Holyrood Park, splashing in ice-cold waters at Loony Dock (in fancy dress, no less!), enjoying the eclectic street theatre events or taking part in the ‘One O’clock Run’ along Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile? Or just a lie-in, perhaps?