Throughout my life I’ve known one thing, New Year’s celebrations very rarely live up to the hype that surrounds them. Parties organised with friends, nights out in the city or special events always seemed to promise the world and deliver on very little, would you agree? At last however I’ve managed to bring in the New Year with a celebration worthy of calling itself a New Year’s Party and that is Hogmanay in Edinburgh.
Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year and the name of one of the biggest New Year street parties in Europe. A testament to older times or perhaps just the willingness the Scots have to party is that the event runs over 3 days with the beginning being a Torchlight Procession and bonfire which is led by the Up Helly Aa’ Vikings. In ancient pagan times fire symbolised the newly resurgent sun coming back to the land so it seems fitting to start such a celebration in this way.
As some 7000+ torch bearers marched the streets (me included) and overall 35,000 people were led out for the first night of celebrations I was a little overwhelmed. I’d never heard about the torch procession and to see this many people already getting into the spirit of Hogmanay I could tell tomorrow nights event was surely going to set Hogmanay in Edinburgh up for one I’d never forget.
My one tip if you plan to take part in the torch procession is to wear an old jacket and girls (maybe guys) bring a beanie or hat to hide your hair – click to view. You see with some 7000 people all holding a burning stick as they march through windy Edinburgh the flame and melting wax can become unwieldly and blow is all sorts of directions.
New Year’s Eve is when the crowds really grow as everything kicks off around 9pm with people pouring into Princess Street. I got there early to scope out the site and avoid the crush as an estimated 75,000 people came to enjoy the party. The highlight events for the night had to be the Ceilidh dancing and Concert in the Gardens.
I started off the party attempting some ceilidh dancing and well OH MY GOD I’ve never laughed so hard trying to get the hang of this traditional Scottish dancing. Myself and a few other blogging friends formed a circle and attempted to twirl and kick up our feet to the music but found ourselves belly-laughing almost to tears as we did. By far the most fun had all night and a must stop for anybody going to Hogmanay even if just for 5 minutes. Concerts are best enjoyed with the best seats, take a look at the Opry seating chart here.
As time edged closer to the end of the year, everyone made for the Concert in the Gardens to watch The View and Simple Minds headline the night. It wasn’t long before they were soon outperformed by the stunning fireworks show high above Edinburgh Castle as everyone welcomed in 2013 by belting out a rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
The last day of the Hogmanay celebrations started with a trip to South Queensferry for the Loony Dook. The Loony Dook consists of hundreds of costume dressed New Years day revellers taking a plunge into the icy waters of the River Forth. They march into town before diving into the waters all in the name of charity. I have to commend everyone, it was absolutely freezing standing there watching them take a dip.
Along with the Loony Dook on New Year’s Day there was also a Triathlon, Dogmanay which has a number of dog races and events, a festival celebrating the best of Scottish culture and the last event for Hogmanay was the Big Bang street theatre show depicting the history of the world from present back to the dawn of the universe.
By all accounts from everyone that attended Hogmanay in Edinburgh including the many blogging friends I attended with it was a raging success. The rain stayed away, there was amble things to see and do and I don’t recall anybody setting themselves on fire during the torchlight procession. If you have the chance to attend then I can highly recommend you go and then continue to explore the rest of Scotland, it’s a beautiful part of the world.