Hogmanay: Celebrating the New Year in Edinburgh

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As the year draws to a close, many of us find ourselves facing the dreaded question: “What will you be doing for New Year’s?” Already, the pressure is mounting to celebrate in a way that is so exciting, so unique, so enviable, that you’ll be able to tell people your plans with pride.

Staying at home? Doesn’t cut it. Going to a house party – so what? But heading to Edinburgh for Hogmanay – well, that’s the ticket.

In Edinburgh, Hogmanay (the Scottish word for New Year’s Eve) is a three-day winter festival that regularly attracts upwards of 80,000 visitors to the city. Of course, this means it’s the same deal as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival: book early, get ready for crowds, and accept now that it’s going to be an expensive trip.

Will it be worth it? That’s for you to decide. Highlights include:

Torchlight Procession

Hogmanay celebrations kick off with a stunning torchlight procession, during which tens of thousands of people take to the evening streets of Edinburgh with torches before topping off the night with a fireworks display.

When: 7pm, 30th December

Where: George IV Bridge to Waterloo Pl and Calton Hill

Cost: £11

Concert in the Gardens

Tickets to this music and firework spectacular can sell out fast, with visitors flocking to see the big names and popular headline acts.

When: 7pm, 31st December

Where: West Princess Street Gardens

Cost: £41

Candlelight Concert

If the concert in the gardens isn’t your thing, or if you’d like to begin the evening’s celebrations in a calmer, classier way, then this festive concert is for you. Enjoy carols and classical music by candlelight inside one of Scotland’s most beautiful cathedrals.

When: 7.30pm, 31st December

Where: St Giles’ Cathedral

Cost: £18.20

The Ceilidh

This sells out every year, so grab your ticket to the world’s largest outdoor New Year ceilidh early! What better way to see in Hogmanay than with traditional Scottish music and dancing? Don’t worry if you don’t know the moves, as the ‘Ceilidh Caller’ will help you out.

When: 9pm, 31st December

Where: The Mound

Cost: £42.50

Street Party

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party is on many people’s bucket lists – and with good reason. It’s one of the world’s biggest outdoor parties, and sees the city centre filled with revellers enjoying live music and DJs beneath the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. Just remember to wrap up warm because Edinburgh is friggin’ cold at this time of year, and a beer blanket can only do so much.

When: 9pm onwards, 31st December

Where: Across the city centre

Cost: £20 for a wristband

Loony Dook

Not for the fainthearted and certainly one hell of a way to battle the New Year hangover, the Loony Dook sees those brave enough taking a synchronised dip in the River Forth beneath the iconic Forth Rail Bridge. Those who don’t fancy risking hypothermia can just cheer from the sidelines if preferred. Polish it off with a full Scottish fried breakfast.

When: 1.30pm, 1st January

Where: South Queensferry  

Cost: £9

However you end up spending your Hogmanay in Edinburgh, make sure you have a good view of the midnight fireworks above the castle and get ready to link arms with whoever is nearby to sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ with.

Lastly, don’t worry about how you’re going to get home safe, ladies – there are free night buses running throughout the festivities.

Have you celebrated Hogmanay in Edinburgh? Where else is good to spend New Year’s Eve? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Author

Leah Eades is a compulsive traveller and freelance writer, whose adventures so far include working in an Italian nightclub, contracting a mystery illness in the Amazon, studying at a Chinese university, and cycling 700km along the Danube River. She blames cheap Ryanair flights for her addiction. Having recently graduated with an English degree, she is currently based in Florence, Italy.

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