Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival

Hogmanay is the Scottish version of New Year’s celebrations with Edinburgh leading this world-famous event. There are still lingering questions on where the word, “Hogmanay” actually came from but the accepted fact is that is a Scottish word for “last day of the year”.

It is a three-day celebration with each city having their own traditions and events, but a closer look will reveal their similarities. Hogmanay traditions across Scotland is about fire like a celebratory burning of a Viking ship, Fireballs Ceremony in Stonehaven, and Edinburgh’s torchlight procession.

As the capital city, it goes without saying that Edinburgh is the grandest and continues to attract worldwide attention. From December 30 to January 1, Edinburgh hosts the largest New Year’s festival with various activities, many of them unique to Scottish culture mixed with modern day revelries like its famous street parties, ceilidh, cathedral concert, procession, and New Year’s fireworks display.

This event is so massive that in 1996-1997, Hogmanay earned its Guinness Book of Record as the largest New Year’s Party with almost half of million in attendance. For three days leading the start of a new year, Edinburgh is one great part place for all ages.

Torchlight Procession

Shetland Vikings with a band of bagpipes, the Torchlight Procession is Hogmanay’s main activity On December 30th; this parade of wax-based torches will start from George IV Bridge and traverse around the city center from 7pm- 8:15.

Organizing this event, tickets are sold for £12 (torch and protection included). The procession culminates with a beautiful fireworks viewing area at Waterloo Place and Calton Hill.

This procession is highly anticipated by both locals and tourists, thus early ticket booking in encouraged. The parade signals the highlights of Hogmanay on topped of the appealing sight of torches illuminating the pitch black winter night in Edinburg.

Street Parties

With a large population of university students, Hogmanay has become attached with street parties on December 31st. The arena, attractions, and bars are opened from 7pm with performances going live from 9pm-1am.

There are four stages offering choices from traditional music to party music. Edinburgh’s outdoor New Year’s party is a must-do with live bands and DJs keeping the crowd in jive.


True to its Scottish roots, ceilidh is a social gathering of traditional music and dances. Enjoy the dance, food, and drink at the World’s Largest Scottish Country Dance with kilts and spinning dancers. Visitors are highly encouraged to participate and witness this social gathering.

Held at the Old Town of High Street and Parliament Square, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is the biggest outdoor ceilidh event in the UK. The arena opens at 8pm and starts at 9pm-1am.

Candlelight Concert at St. Giles’ Cathedral

For those who want the opposite of parties, proceed to Royal Mile at Edinburgh’s St. Giles Cathedral for dramatic and soothing concert. The magnificent cathedral is filled with candles, heightening the atmosphere.

Relax and enjoy supreme musical presentation of baroque music feature the works of Vivaldi and J. S. Bach. Soloists and choir also perform during this concert.

Tickets sell at £18.50; concerts starts at 6pm with doors opening at 5:30pm. Due to the solemn environment of this concert, this event is not advisable for those with children.

Family-Friendly Event at Hogmanay

With how Hogmanay has gained continuous popularity globally, many are concerned that it has focused on drinking and partying. The truth is a complete opposite with a long list of activities exclusively for little children and families.

These events are smartly family-versions of Hogmanay’s events like parties. Still too young to join the crowd and stay up all night at the street parties? Go to St. Andrew’s Square and let those little dancing feet get loose.

Every afternoon on December 30, 31, and January 2, families can bring their kids and enjoy a less rowdy dance at the “Baby Love Hogmanay Disco”.

A family version for the wonderful ceilidh party is the “Hogmanay Family Ceilidh” at 2pm-3:3;30pm on December 31st. This kid-friendly ceilidh is held at the Grand Gallery of The National Museum of Scotland.

On top of the social gatherings, there are many activities like interactive tours prepared for children, to give more information about Scotland and Hogmanay hoping to continue the legacy for their generation.

Midnight Moment

The event everyone is waiting for – the countdown to New Year’s Eve. Midnight Moment also serves as the highlight of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay with beyond amazing show of fireworks display.

The event has four fireworks displays centered on Edinburgh Castle and Calton Hill, thus wherever you are in Edinburgh, you will see the marvelous display of fireworks. To have the best view, spectators are encouraged to find a vantage point.

As midnight comes close, fireworks display illuminates the sky over Edinburgh until at the struck of midnight, the grandest fireworks display ever for Edinburgh treats spectators. As a tradition, people hold hands and sing, “ Auld Lang Syne”.

After the celebration, locals proceed to River Forth and dare the annual dip to the freezing water of the river to welcome the New Year. There are minor activities held until January 3rd. The Scottish also begin their Hogmanay traditions like gift giving, and the first-foot practice. The first-foot is the first visitor of the year and believed to bring good luck and fortune to the family.

With all these activities and the solid support of both locals and tourists, Edinburgh’s New Year’s Part celebration is one of a kind. Truly, Hogmanay has been cited and listed as a must-do and a top travel activities for everyone. Hogmanay gives visitors the most vibrant tradition of Scotland.

Getting to and traveling around Edinburgh is rather easy being the capital city of Scotland. To maximize and get the best deal, it is best to book your tickets to events as early as possible. Hotels also offer ticket packages that include admissions to major events like street parties and Ceilidh. Hotels can also arrange for the best viewing venues for the most awaited fireworks display.


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