I’ll let you into a little secret. Probably the UK’s worst kept secret, but one worth making sure you know about nonetheless. Are you ready? Here goes:
Edinburgh hosts the best New Years celebrations you’ll ever go to.
You know the feeling: it’s reaching 31st December and everyone is talking about plans for the evening, it might be a house party, paying extortionate prices for club entry that you’re not really up for, or staying in to watch the telly. Once the fireworks end it all feels hugely anticlimactic.
But New Years Eve in Edinburgh? It won’t disappoint in the slightest.
In Scotland New Years’s Eve is known as Hogmanay and the celebrations last for at least three days. Effectively, it’s a winter festival complete with fireworks, street parties, live music and flaming torches. It’s fantastic and the perfect way to say goodbye to the year.
Hogmanay in Edinburgh kicks off with a torchlight procession through the streets up towards Calton Hill, a UNESCO World heritage site. The procession of 8,000 torch-wielding revelers is led by Vikings and watched and by a further 70,000-80,000 watched and walked long with them. Departing from the Mound the Vikings head up to Calton Hill where you’re greeted with a huge bonfire and spectacular fireworks.
On Hogmanay Eve Edinburgh gets ready for a street party of Brazilian proportions. There’s five stages playing fantastic music to get you in the mood for a party.
Visit the Ceilidh stag for some true Scottish dancing or the Scottish and Waverley stages for music from some great Scottish bands.
2014 also saw fantastic sets from Bijorn Again, Lily Allen and Hot Dub Time Machine (to name a few). If you do anything in 2015 go and see Hot Dub Time Machine – he plays songs through the generations from 1954 – each tune will having you singing and jumping along.
As 12 o’clock looms the bands take a quick break and the countdown begins.
The fireworks at midnight are the fourth of the night. Hogmanay doesn’t just have one set of fireworks; it has four. Each set increases in size from 9pm finishing in the spectacular as the bells strike 12.
In a first, Hogmanay of 2014 saw the castle lit up in different colours as the bells struck midnight. The fireworks are choreographed to music and are in two locations: the castle and Calton Hill. They’re the most impressive I’ve ever seen and far better than those along the Thames in London.
Nursing a tender head? What better way to clear it and start the new year than a dip in the Scottish waters at South Queensbury with around 1000 others in all types of crazy fancy dress?
On New Year’s Day thousands of people fill the small town of South Queensbury just outside Edinburgh and take a dip in the Forth under the gaze of the iconic Forth bridges.
Those taking part are paraded through the village to the sound of drums before throwing themselves into the chilly waters.
Having done more than my fair share of icy dips, it turns out that the waters in Scotland are warmer than the waters in Norfolk – who’d have thought?
If jumping into icy water isn’t your thing then Edinburgh puts on a treasure hunt of sorts through the city. There are 10 special locations to seek out and it all starts with the spin of a compass. Discover the very vest of music, art and theatre created by innovative Scottish artists. The experience begins at the National Museum of Scotland and registration is free.
Are you tempted to ditch that night in watching telly, or that expensive club entry for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay in 12 month’s time?
*#blogmanay is brought to you by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and is supported by ETAG, EventScotland, VisitScotland, Homecoming Scotland 2014 and co-creators Haggis Adventures. Created and produced by Unique Events. As always, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.