Even though Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebration is the party par excellence of the calendar year, there’s still plenty to see and do in the Scottish capital on the first day of the new year. So whether you’re keen to keep the party going, or feeling ready to hang up your dancing (and drinking) shoes forever, read on to find out the top ten things to do on New Year’s Day in Edinburgh.
Aye, there’s nothing more cleansing than a splash of freezing seawater. Fight that hangover with a shock to the system and raise some money for charity at the annual Loony Dook! One of Scotland’s most beloved annual Hogmanay traditions, ‘Dookers’ will march up High Street as part of the Dooker Parade, before throwing themselves into the Firth of Forth against an iconic view of the Forth Bridges. Don’t worry about hypothermia – the excellent pubs and cafés on South Queensferry are prepared for the occasion with plenty of hot meals and drinks.
Message from the Skies
Take a literary journey through UNESCO’s first City of Literature, written by acclaimed Scottish writer Val McDermid. Titled New Year’s Resurrection, McDermid’s short story will be told through projections onto Edinburgh’s buildings and landmarks across the city. Each projection will be one chapter of the story and the event will run throughout January, so you can enjoy the story on your own pace. We guarantee you’ll never see Edinburgh in the same light again.
Brunch the Hangover Away
Maybe that extra tequila shot seemed like a good idea last night, but now you’re waking up on the first day of 2018 feeling barely human. No worries though: Edinburgh’s brunch scene is extensive, delicious and a wonderful celebration of carbs in all its forms. The eggs benedict selection at The Pantry – served with your choice of maple-smoked salmon or marmalade-cured ham – will set you to rights in no time, while the maestros at Urban Angel will get you back on your feet with their pan-fried chorizo and mushroom mash, and a stiff Bloody Mary for luck.
New Year’s Raceday
Perhaps you went off to the races last night, but if it’s some literal horseracing you’re looking for the morning after, hie your way down to the Musselburgh Racecourse for their famous New Year’s Day event. Featuring breakneck race jumping events and incredibly high stakes, this annual event is not for the faint-hearted. Settle back in the stands and watch jockeys and horses compete in magnificent feats of athleticism, whilst enjoying a steaming packet of perfectly salted fish and chips.
Schiltron! Flodden Era
Counteract the debauchery of the previous night with some wholesome family fun at Edinburgh Castle. Learn about the castle’s military history, the sieges the fortress has withstood, and the courage of Scottish warriors in battle. Historians weave a compelling tale of feuding warlords and advanced military stratagems, before handing over the pikes and spears to the audience and letting them have a go at organising a schiltron – a military tactic that earned the Scots their reputation for bravery and strength during the Wars of Scottish Independence.
Scottish Chamber Orchestra – New Year Gala Concert
Looking to start off the New Year on a more cultured, virtuous foot? The Scottish Chamber Orchestra will be performing a spirited repertoire of dances at Usher Hall, such as Dvorak’s Prague Waltzes, Josef Strauss’ Polka Schnell and Johann Strauss’ Emperor Waltz. If you’re still dreaming of last night’s New Year’s kiss, the SCO will also be performing Fritz Kreisler’s much-beloved series of love songs, Old Viennese Melodies.
For those with unbelievable stamina, there are plenty of clubs in Edinburgh who keep the good times rolling. SKYbar at the Doubletree by Hilton will be hosting their annual New Year’s Day bash TWEAK_, featuring Gareth Sommerville, Simon Bays and Kieran Apter, as well as a secret special guest. The party runs from 2pm to 1am, with an after-party into the wee morning hours at Sneaky Pete’s. The Liquid Room will also be throwing their own NYD shindig, with resident DJs Fisher and Price, up until 5am. Get ready for round two…
Visit the Christmas Market
The holiday season doesn’t officially end until the Christmas Market closes up shop, so take a last trip to the market on Princes Street and savour it whilst you can! Stock up on the mulled wine, spiced ciders, fancy alpaca sweaters and other festive knick-knackery. Or take a spin on one of the Market’s exhilarating rides, such as the Helter Skelter or the Candy Cane Bungees. It ain’t over ’til it’s over!
Glide on past the fairy-light-laden Melville Statue at St. Andrew’s Square’s circular ice rink. The perfect opportunity for lots of hand-holding and hot chocolate, it’s the ideal chill post-NYE date. Like the Christmas Market though, the ice rink will only be around for a few more days, so lace up those skates, because there’s no time to waste.
Hike up Arthur’s Seat
What better way to reflect upon the past and survey the future ahead than atop one of Edinburgh’s most gorgeous vantage points? Rising at 251 metres above sea level, Arthur’s Seat offers sweeping views of the city below and across the Firth of Forth. A designated Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its diversity of flora and fauna, this strikingly beautiful environment is the perfect place for contemplation and to formulate some new year’s resolutions. Be sure to dress warmly, as the gusts get quite strong on the summit.