Hogmanay is a uniquely Scottish event, and nowhere does Hogmanay like our nation’s historic capital, Edinburgh! More than a mere party, the city puts on a three-day extravaganza where everyone joins in the celebrations to say farewell to the old year and ring in the new.
Those uninitiated to the delights of Hogmanay may think it is simply another way to describe New Year’s Eve. Although some of the features may be familiar, like the countdown to midnight and fireworks, the addition of Gaelic and Viking customs makes it wonderfully unique, which is why people visit Edinburgh from around the world so they can experience it for themselves.
The fun starts on 30th December with a torchlight procession that winds its way through the streets of the city. Up to 40,000 are expected to take part in the parade this year, carrying special torches along the route which culminates in an enormous bonfire and fireworks. Also taking place that night is a special Paolo Nutini concert in the West Princes Street Gardens.
Hogmanay offers a variety of choices to suit your music tastes. Start your celebrations early with a candlelit concert in the magnificent surroundings of Saint Giles’ Cathedral (pic below).
Although this event is not suitable for young children, the festival itself is very family friendly. Sprogmanay is a programme of free events at the National Museum of Scotland with arts and crafts, music, storytelling and, on 31st December, a lantern procession.
The Mound Stage has been organised by Edinburgh’s famed Jazz and Blues Festival and includes performances from Brass Gumbo. The Charlatans headline the rock inspired Waverley Stage, while Frederick Stage is hosting a dance party, and Castle Stage is hosting Celtic-crossover favourites such as Salsa Celtica.
If your Hogmanay isn’t complete without a ceilidh, then put your dancing shoes on and make your way towards High Street in Edinburgh’s Old Town where Scotland’s best ceilidh musicians and callers will have you whirling your way into the small hours. Meanwhile, Paolo Nutini is doing a second concert, and many pubs will be hosting their own Hogmanay parties.
Where to See the Fireworks
All of the events mentioned are part of the official city celebrations and tickets need to be purchased in advance, but you can see the famous Edinburgh fireworks for free at Inverleith Park, on Braid Hill Road, and various points in Carlton Hill and Bruntsfield Links. If you can find space on the Mound, you’ll have a great view though it’s unlikely you’ll hear much of the music. Princes Street gives fantastic views if you’re happy to stand in a crowd, or set yourself up at the Grassmarket where there are plenty of pubs to keep the cold out.
Why settle for one display when you can have four? Edinburgh’s fireworks are set off hourly from 9:00pm, culminating with the Midnight Moment display.
Where to Stay
If you are booking late, you may find yourself taking whatever room you can get. Hotels around Princes and George Streets are in the heart of the action so while they are the more expensive option, you’ll save money on taxi fares. If your budget doesn’t stretch to a city centre hotel, then try those around Livingston which is around 20 minutes by train, or 25 minutes by car from Edinburgh Castle. As well as hotels and bed and breakfasts there are also many options on Airbnb.
You can drive to Edinburgh from Dundee in around one and a half hours, but then you have the headache and expense of finding somewhere to park if you’re staying in the city centre. Far easier is to take the train directly from Dundee to Edinburgh Waverley Station. Alternatively, costing from £7 each way, the Megabus is a comfortable budget conscious way to travel, taking no longer than train or car.
Celebrating Hogmanay in Edinburgh is something every Scot should experience at least once in their lifetime. Make this your year!