A Guide To Celebrating Hogmanay In Edinburgh

Midnight Fireworks
Midnight Fireworks
Photo of Tori Chalmers
6 December 2016

The Fringe is addictive, Christmas is magical, but Hogmanay in Edinburgh is a truly momentous and otherworldly experience. The Scottish version of New Year’s Eve, Hogmanay is a spectacular cultural array of festivities fuelled by tradition and filled with unwavering banter, fireworks, music, tasty eats, dancing, and of course, barrels of whiskey and swathes of tartan. From the epic street party and hourly fireworks displays to a magical midnight moment complete with Auld Lang Syne resonating throughout, embrace the contagious ambiance and enjoy our guide to celebrating Hogmanay in Edinburgh.

The Street Party

The shindig of all shindigs, The Street Party is a leviathan outdoor event jam-packed with endless entertainment, situated near the majesty of the Castle. From live DJs and bands to sensational fireworks painted across the sky every hour from 9pm onwards, there’s no better way to usher in the New Year. Meander between the four stages and eight massive screens (Waverley, Castle, Mound and Frederick), enjoy witnessing headliners The Charlatans, and feed off the countless stellar music selection in store. Wrap up extra warm, as this party is notorious for powering through all sorts of weather conditions.

Waverley Stage | © Chris Watt / Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Hogmanay

Night Afore Concert

Any excuse for a good old party and the Scots are there with bells on their fingers and whistles on their toes. For the first time ever, Edinburgh is hosting a second Hogmanay show, this time with renowned Scottish musician Paolo Nutini. This idea came about from the overwhelming demand for more festivities. In true Scots style, a number of bars and food will frequent the West Princes Street Gardens. Like The Street Party, this is an outdoor extravaganza, so make sure to don the right get-up and bring a brolly!

Castle Street Stage | © Tartanzone Photo / Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Hogmanay

Torchlight Procession

A sight for sore eyes, the Torchlight Procession is an affair immeasurably precious to locals and visitors alike. Well worth witnessing, Edinburgh illuminates like a resplendent flowing sea of red and orange flames, thanks to over 40,000 people uniting and marching for charity, each holding a flaming torch. A photographer’s dream, this unique cultural ritual is steeped in tradition and never fails to ignite a fire within.

Pipers Lead The Torchlight Procession | © Lloyd Smith / Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Hogmanay

Concert In The Gardens

Hogmanay celebrations wouldn’t be the same without the annual Concert In The Gardens. Situated below the ever-present eyes of the noble and magnificent Edinburgh Castle, this sensational show is the full works, and then some. With fireworks and a dynamite line up, music and party lovers are in for a treat. Hear Paolo Nutini, The Lightning Seeds, and The Vegan Leather as they walk in the footsteps of Blondie, Primal Scream, Kasabian and Pet Shops Boys, who have graced this famous stage in years gone by. The perfect way to experience the bells of New Year (and escape the main pocket of party people), this concert is leagues ahead of the rest.

Castle Street Stage | © Tartanzone Photo / Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Hogmanay

Old Town Ceilidh

Want to go to a real party? A true taste of Scotland, the Old Town Ceilidh is the perfect event for those with an affinity for Scottish music and all things traditional. The event is sponsored by Belhaven Brewery, organised by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and is truly transforming the High Street into a hub of gastronomic delights, plenty of booze and enough ceilidh music to fill the city streets with sheer pride. Two live open air stages will host memorable performances from Kilter and HotScotch, as well as contemporary Scottish musicians Talisk and Top Floor Taivers, to name a few. Those unsure how to do the pas des basque can delight in the Ceilidh Makers, a tribe of trusty ceilidh connoisseurs on hand to teach newbies the dancing ropes.

Old Town Ceilidh | © Lloyd Smith / Courtesy Of Edinburgh's Hogmanay

Stoats Loony Dook

Many see a good breakfast and a Bloody Mary as the only hangover cure; the Scots have Irn-Bru and the Loony Dook. A tradition dating back over three decades, thousands of people in Edinburgh congregate at South Queensferry on New Year’s Day for the annual tradition of ‘dooking’ or ‘dipping’ in the Firth of Forth. The sub zero temperatures are made tolerable from the heightened sense of hilarity and exquisite backdrop of the Forth Road Bridge. Participants, who are dressed to the nines in full fancy dress and all in the name of charity, march along the High Street before the big dook.

Stoats Loony Dook | © Chris Watt/Flickr


So you don’t suffer from the post-party blues, Scotland’s most innovative artists and musicians have put their heads together for Scot:Lands, a glistening display of art, music and theatre. The Russian roulette element makes it all the more interesting. Upon arrival, venues or ‘Lands’ are allocated to participants at random, albeit a short distance away from each other. When a new Land beckons, look to the giant compass — it will show you the way. Literally. They have a massive spinning compass!

'Up Helly A Vikings'

The Final Fling

The only way to end a party in Scotland is to throw a giant party! The Final Fling is a celebration on New Year’s Day in the form of a ceilidh. Situated in the incredible Grand Hall of the National Museum of Scotland, partygoers can weave in and out like strings of Christmas lights and dosey doe amidst some of the most exquisite collections out there. Music by the deftly talented native Edinburgh band Heeliegoleerie is sure to set the tone for an epic final farewell.

Midnight Fireworks

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