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A Guide to Edinburgh's Hogmanay

Posted by Allison DelVecchio on

 Photo credit: Fireworks over Edinburgh Robbie Shade

Brace yourselves, it’s that time of year again.  You’ve barely recovered from the Christmas festivities (not to suggest you overdid it or anything…) when New Year’s arrives with a serious bang. 

 We know the ball dropping in New York is famous and the celebrations in Paris are awe inspiring, but here in Scotland we do things a little differently, and, dare we say, better.  It's called Hogmanay.  For those visiting Edinburgh, the tradition derives from a pre-modern era when this time of year was rung in with fire. 

Now it consists of not one, not two, but THREE days and nights of celebrations.

Photo credit: Procession Calton Hill by photojenni

First up, the famous Torchlight Procession

 Join over 30,000 people in a dazzling display of light, truly unlike any other.

Get a voucher HERE to be guaranteed a torch for 12 pounds.  The procession starts at the George IV Bridge at 7pm on the night of the 30th!

Tip: This is open fire. While it's very safe and there are guards to protect your hands, don't wear your Sunday best to this event as the wind can cause wax to fall onto clothing. And we wouldn't want that!

Next stop, Street Party!

 So, tickets to the Concert in the Gardens are sold out (womp womp), but there’s still so much fun to be had and awesome bands to see, so don’t be discouraged fellow partiers, for we will prevail! 

 On New Year’s Eve itself you can experience one of the biggest and best celebrations on the planet!  All for 25 pounds!  Set against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, you’ll have the perfect background for all those Insta pics. 

Smack in the city center, festivities start at 9pm and go until 1 in the morning. 

 Note: there’s no entry after 11 so don’t stay at the pub too long beforehand

 Maximo Park will be there as well as one of my favorites, Craig Charles, as he DJs a Funk and Soul Club set.

Get tickets HERE



Photo Credit: Edinburgh Christmas Princes St Gardens alljengi

We recommend checking out the Christmas Gardens on Princes Street beforehand (pictured above).  If you’re visiting from out of town, head over a few days earlier to avoid the crowds. 

There’s an ice rink and a Big Wheel you guys! What more could you ask for? Answer: nothing

 Tip: Feeling overwhelmed by all the crowds and want to hide out for a while during all the craziness? Head over to the Panda and Son’s Hogmanay celebration.  A speakeasy style pub that looks like a barber shop, they’ll be ringing in the new year for only 5 pounds! Get tickets HERE 

Check out this Time Out guide for more bars and restaurants in the area.

Also, this is a great list of pubs where you can ring in the new year a bit more quietly.


Photo credit: Old Town Roofs, Spring Morning Byronv2

The Old Town Ceilidh 

While the hard core revelers are living it up at the Street Party, in historic Old Town (pictured above) you can experience a more traditional taste of Scotland. 

Classic Scottish food, dancing, and of course drink, will all be on display at the Old Town Ceilidh!  They’re even trying to break a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest Strip the Willow.

 At High Street and Parliament Square, enter from the North Bridge Arena at 9pm.

 Hint: There’s lots of cobblestones in Old Town so it may not be the best time for those Lady Gaga heels!

 You’ll be able to see the famous Midnight Moment Fireworks from either the Street Party or the Old Town site so don’t worry!

Get tickets HERE

On New Year’s day the party continues 

The day after the big party, the celebrations go on!  

Try Scot:Lands a multi-stop tour through Old Town determined by the whim of a compass.  Proceed through each interactive “land” featuring music, food and other cultural fare at your own pace. 

This event is free but definitely pre-register to ensure a spot for you or your group HERE

Got little ones?  There’s also Wee Scot:Lands for children!


Photo Credit: Filmhouse at Night byronv2

Get your dose of art in at the Film Festival!

The week between Christmas and New Year’s also offers the EH20 Film Season.  Showings are at the Edinburgh Filmhouse.  It’s a great opportunity to unwind and take in some culture during all the festivities.

It runs from the 27th of December to the 6th of January.  See the full lineup and get tickets HERE 

Head over to the official Hogmanay site for maps, ticket info as well as accommodation and travel suggestions.


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