How To Have The Best New Year’s Ever At Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

How To Have The Best New Year’s Ever At Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

I’ve never liked New Year’s Eve. Historically for me it’s been a time filled with reflection and regret at an over-hyped and over-priced event. But when I attended Edinburgh’s Hogmanay a few years ago I learned it didn’t have to be this way. Not only is Edinburgh’s Hogmanay a fun-filled 3 days (where you’re far too busy to berate yourself for everything you didn’t achieve in the year before) but it’s great value for money too (any event where you can take your own booze is a winner in my eyes!).

Edinburgh’s new year festival, steeped in tradition, friendliness and whisky, attracts almost 85k visitors from over 80 countries. I was so incredibly lucky to be one of them once again for 2015/16.

The streets of Edinburgh become one big party

The streets of Edinburgh become one big party

The Hogmanay festivities begin on the 30th December with flames and Vikings. The Torchlight Procession is an event linked to Pagan tradition whereby participants parade through the streets of Edinburgh holding torches. The procession is led by the Up Helly Aa Vikings who travel from the Shetland Isles with their armour, axes and surprising approachability (they’re happy to take photo requests from the crowd). This year’s was one of the biggest events ever with 40,000 people in attendance; 10,000 of whom were holding flaming torches.

Friendly Vikings from the Up Helly Aa lead the Torchlight Procession

Friendly Vikings from the Up Helly Aa lead the Torchlight Procession

Despite the axes and fire the Torchlight Procession is a very family friendly event with Vikings of all ages taking part!

Despite the axes and fire the Torchlight Procession is a very family friendly event with Vikings of all ages taking part!

The procession starts in the Old Town, weaving its way down The Mound and then up to Calton Hill where a bonfire is lit and fantastic fireworks set the standard for the displays on New Year’s Eve.

It’s hard to describe how magical and surreal the sight of thousands of people holding torches and walking slowly through a historic city centre is – you’ll have to see it for yourself to get the full hypnotising effect.

Eager touch bearers queue to be near the front of the procession

Eager torch bearers queue to be near the front of the procession

The procession lights the streets of Edinburgh

The procession lights the streets of Edinburgh

The processions ends on Calton Hill with a bonfire and fireworks

The processions ends on Calton Hill with a bonfire and fireworks

Our New Year’s Eve begun a little differently – my fellow Blogmanay bloggers and I indulged our Guilty Pleasures. The Hogmanay street party, which kicks off at 9pm, has several stages with DJ’S and live acts to suit every taste of music. Guilty Pleasures lured us in with Prince and kept us dancing to Whitney, Beyoncé, Take That, and all the cheesiness you could think of.

The #blogmanay crew at Guilty Pleasures. Photo thanks to Emily Luxton

The #blogmanay crew at Guilty Pleasures. Photo thanks to Emily Luxton

Entrance to the street party closes at 11pm so the streets get noticeably busier at this point. My previous experience taught me that I needed to head towards where I wanted to be for midnight around 11pm in order to get a good spot.

This year we decided to go to the Concert In The Gardens where Biffy Clyro would be leading us into the countdown and you have a full view of the fireworks that frame the castle. There are screens and music throughout the streets so you can dance your way between each stage though. There are also plenty of bars (and portaloos!) but the great thing about Hogmanay is you can bring your own alcohol with you, as long as it’s in a plastic bottle not larger than 500mls.

It's warm in the crowd

It’s warm in the crowd

Edinburgh Castle floats above Concert In The Gardens

Edinburgh Castle floats above the Concert In The Gardens

In the Concert In The Gardens we rocked out to a topless Biffy for the last epic hour of 2015. Hourly fireworks had been ramping up our excitement throughout the night but nothing could have prepared me for the phenomenal display at midnight. Everyone at the street party was left stunned as the sky above Edinburgh Castle was set alight with displays that coordinated cleverly to a soundtrack including Uptown Funk and Changing by Sigma ft. Paloma Faith. I’d show you a video clip but all my filming is full of me screaming WOW at the top of my voice – I was just too caught up in the moment to stand there in silence. I’ve never seen a display like it and can’t tell you how incredible it felt to be there amongst it. Then Auld Lang Syne came on and we danced around like loonies before heading back to Guilty Pleasures for the last hour of the event. After that we didn’t go straight home but continued the cheesy tunes at Electric Circus karaoke bar. My voice is several tones lower today.

Biffy Clyro at Concert In The Gardens

Biffy Clyro at Concert In The Gardens

11pm fireworks got us VERY excited for the main event

11pm fireworks got us VERY excited for the main event

The midnight moment at Edinburgh's Hogmanay 2015/16 - so much WOW

The midnight moment at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2015/16

So much WOW

So much WOW

Hogmanay doesn’t end there though. On New Year’s Day many beautiful buildings around the city host concerts and arts performances as part of the Scot:Lands event. Participants are led on a mystery tour of the city, picking up a map and details of the next event as they pass through each venue.

This year we discovered interpretative dance in the National Museum of Scotland, foot-stomping fiddlers in Greyfriars Kirk and hauntingly beautiful voices in St Giles Cathedral. My friend Vicky was left stunned when she found herself front row for an intimate gig with Roddy Woomble the lead singer of Idlewild.

The Scot:Lands event is a fantastic way to explore Edinburgh whilst discovering new artists, meeting old favourites and shaking off your hangover from the night before.

A concert in St Giles Cathedral as part of Scot:Lands

A concert in St Giles Cathedral as part of Scot:Lands

Live music at Greyfriars Kirk

Live music at Greyfriars Kirk

Beguiling performance at National Museum Of Scotland

Beguiling performance at National Museum Of Scotland

So that’s how I had a fantastic new year’s in Edinburgh. I hope you had an incredible time wherever you celebrated in the world.

Happy New Year!

How to have the best new year's eve ever at Edinburghs Hogmanay

More Info

Find out more about Edinburgh’s HogmanayI attended the event as part of#blogmanay, which is brought to you by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and is supported by ETAGThe Scottish GovernmentVisitScotland, Festivals EdinburghMarketing EdinburghRabbies Tours and co-creators Haggis Adventures. Created and produced by Unique Events.

As always, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Further reading:

Blogger’s guide to Hogmanay

Diary of my first time at Hogmanay (2014)

Stylish guide to Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is underway! (2013)

 

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12 Comments

  1. January 2, 2016 / 9:19 pm

    I was in Edinburgh spending Christmas with my husband’s family, but left on the 29th, I will definitely stay for Hogmanay next time. I loved you post, thank you

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      January 5, 2016 / 11:03 am

      Ah thank you, it’s such a fun celebration and a great place to be at NYE. Christmas must have been lovely too. I loved the markets and decorations at The Dome!

  2. January 2, 2016 / 9:23 pm

    What a great post! I really enjoyed reading about your experience of Edinburgh Hogmany! I too have ‘done’ NYE in Edinburgh and it really does have a wow factor! I run a site that is a world wide bed and breakfast site and if we can work together please do give me shout! Happy New Year! Love Laura x

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      January 5, 2016 / 11:04 am

      Thanks Laura – happy new year to you too!! J

  3. January 2, 2016 / 10:12 pm

    I did Hogmanay about 3/4 years ago now and it is still the best NYE I have ever had

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      January 5, 2016 / 11:05 am

      Me too. The one I did 2 years ago was my fave until this one topped it!

  4. January 2, 2016 / 10:29 pm

    I’ve now been for the last few years and absolutly love it, and have already booked up again for next year!

    Will be getting my blog post out soon.

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      January 5, 2016 / 11:06 am

      Great. Would love to see it when you’re done. Ping me a link 😉

  5. January 5, 2016 / 1:49 am

    I was in Edinburgh last week too but we didn’t make it in the city until midnight. We’d been out all day and by 6:30 we were getting cold and decided snuggling up in our cozy Airbnb house sounded oh so appealing. Just being in the city during the day has a festive feel to it too as they prepped for the party and started closing the streets so it was left with tons of people wandering around. Even though we didn’t stay until midnight we still had a great New Year’s Eve day in Edinburgh. It’s a wonderful city.

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      January 5, 2016 / 11:07 am

      It’s so fun and festive isn’t it. Your Airbnb sounds very cosy. Did you see the fireworks at all? They blew me away!

  6. November 7, 2017 / 1:26 pm

    Castle, fireworks, music!! Man this really is the perfect way to spend the holiday, thanks for sharing!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      November 7, 2017 / 10:19 pm

      It certainly is a lot of fun!

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