Head to Hogmanay street party with 80,000 strangers on New Year’s Eve – A wild 3-day celebration where you’ll need a torchlight and a lump of coal.
Marvel at Scotland’s beauty as you head to Edinburgh for the biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in the world – Hogmanay. Join an ancient tradition of paganism in a torchlight procession to an ancient castle, followed by an epic street party where more than 2,800 individual fireworks are set off from the peak of a gothic castle as the clock strikes midnight.
It’s an absolute spectacle as you join more than 80,000 others in a street party that’ll have you partying until sunrise with both locals and travellers from across the globe.
A torch and bonfire ceremony to awe at
Traditionally, the Scottish began their New Year’s celebration with pagan parties across the nation. This involved dressing up the hides of cattle, roaring bonfires and tossing blazing tar barrels down hill slopes. Animal hide was also used to wrap around sticks to create scorching torchlights to ward off evil spirits. Now the Scottish reminisce in old pagan traditions in Edinburgh, by meeting in the main town square to light wax-based torches and walk to a hilltop where an old castle overlooks the whole city. Every year on the 29th December, you can join the walk of pilgrimage with around 20,000 others, as people dressed as Vikings lead the procession.
A Celtic street festival followed by an epic street party of 80,000 partygoers
The night before New Year’s Eve, the party begins with a giant open-air (and completely free) Celtic festival on George Street, Edinburgh. With various stages, food stalls, comedy, Scottish dancing and musical pipes and drum displays, it’s perfect for any curious traveller and also for families looking for an exotic way to spend New Years.
But wait there’s more… the real party kicks off the following night (New Year’s Eve) in the same location. This is where the famous street party begins – a wild celebration where more than 80,000 party animals dance, drink and just plain enjoy life. There’s something for everyone, with 6 large stages playing everything from Rock to Dubstep, and food stalls selling everything from Haggis to deep-fried Mars Bars.
The Loony Dook
After all the New Year’s partying, you probably don’t think the best hangover cure would be to jump in a freezing lake in the middle of winter – but it’s tradition. Head to the Moorings in South Queensfury on New Year’s day. Here, thousands of people dress in costume before jumping into icy-cold waters near the famous Forth Bridge (and remember it’s winter). Be sure to be there between 11am and 1pm to join in the fun, and be cleansed to commence the New Year.
Why a tall, dark male figure standing in your doorway is good luck this New Year
Thought to be derived from Viking influence, the New Year’s celebration comes with some odd traditions including one called “First footing”. For this ancient tradition, it is said that the “first foot” to enter your house after midnight should be that of a tall, dark male with the seemly strange but traditional possessions of symbolic coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and whisky (maybe these days, the whisky is the only part of this tradition still upheld).
Why a talk dark male you ask? This is believed to come from the Viking days when the presence of blondes was extremely uncommon and usually meant trouble.
Other traditions exist as well, such as cleaning your house on the 31st December, as well as clearing all your existing debts before the end of the day.
When coal fireplaces were still common in Scotland, families would also clear the old coal from their fireplaces to symbolise a new and clean beginning for the New Year. Now, and perhaps the most commonly upheld tradition that exists today both in Scotland and throughout the world, is the welcoming of strangers with warm hospitality, including a kiss with a stranger when the clock strikes midnight.