New Year’s Eve is probably one of the most widely celebrated days of the year; parties, countdowns, concerts etc. The Scottish in particular have a long rich heritage associated with this day. In fact, they even have their own name for it, Hogmanay.
The celebration lasts through the night until the morning of New Year’s day. Little tidbit of history here, Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with the celebration of the Gregorian New Year. The etymology of the word is obscure, at best. Some say it was introduced to Middle Scots through the Auld Alliance, other say it was derived from 16th century Old French. In Scotland, Hogmanay is considered to be as or more important than Christmas eve or Christmas day.
Different areas in Scotland have developed their own ritual or manner of celebrating the end of the year. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is perhaps the most famous and popular one of them all. Every year when it gets to the end of December, this stunning beautiful city is flooded by visitors who are in town for the annual three-day celebrations to welcome in the New Year. Surrounded by beauty, natural and man-made; Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh Castle, Scots Monument, Arthur’s Seat etc, one can see why this festival draws such huge crowds. The unique blend of atmospheric beauty, daytime entertainment, great music bands and night parties make Edinburgh’s Hogmanay legendary.
*Tip: Accommodation in Edinburgh gets fully booked when more than 80,000 revelers converge onto this city so book accommodation early to avoid a mad rush and probably disappointment.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2011/12 kicks off with the spectacular Torchlight Procession. Thousands of visitors and locals holding torches gather on the streets, creating a ‘river of fire’ through the city. The procession is marked by the Scottish highlanders and hairy vikings dragging a viking warship, leading the ‘river of fire’ making its way from the historic High Street in Edinburgh Old Town, down the Mound, along Princes Street and Waterloo Place, and culminating on the ancient Edinburgh meeting ground Calton Hill. The torch bearers are accompanied by the pipes and drums of both traditional and contemporary outfits. During the “Son et Lumiere & Firework Finale”, the torches are thrown into a bonfire and a colorful display of fireworks heralds the start of the Hogmanay festival.
Saturday 31st December
There are a few things happening on this day so we thought we would make it easier for you by breaking it down. So..in no rank or order.
Concert in the Gardens – takes place in a ticketed area in Princes Street Gardens West within the Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street. Party arena and the Ross Band stand provides a dramatic setting under the iconic Edinburgh Castle rock. This year, Primal Scream are headlining the Concert in the Gardens, along with Bombay Bicycle Club. Its been two decades since Bobby Gillespie, the lead singer of Primal Scream, released Screamadelica, their most popular album. For Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, the band will play their dance-rock classics such as Movin’ On Up, Come Together and Loaded as the festival approaches the magical hour that is midnight.
For those who prefer something more authentic and want to try Scottish dancing, head over to The Keilidh. Though the English call this country dancing, to the Scottish this is is Ceilidh, an exhilarating and twirling dance. This dance involves stomping one’s feet, spinning partners and locking arms with complete strangers. All in all, it is vigorous and plenty good fun. Part of Edinburgh Hogmanay’s celebrations are held at The Mound precinct. This massive ceilidh dancing event features traditional Scottish music and dance, as well as bars and local food, and a fantastic view of the Midnight Fireworks. There’s even a Ceilidh Caller to teach you the moves to Ceilidh music!
For those who would want something more serene, the annual Candlelit Concert in the St. Giles’ Cathedral offers an evening of classical music. This year’s concert celebrates the music of Handel and Mozart. Handel’s virtuosic Dixit Dominus is partnered by Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de Confessore, with its famous Laudate Dominum movement. The famous St Giles’ organ will also be heard in Handel’s Organ Concerto Op 4 No 2 in B flat.
Arguably the main attraction, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay’s Street Party also perhaps the best known event of the festival. The 80,000 strong New Year street party is a ticketed event that takes place the length of Princes Street, with live bands, dancing in the street, and street theatre troupes mingling with crowds. The festivities really get going when the stages and screens go live at 9pm and the street party climaxes with the bells of Big Ben chiming at midnight ushering in the New Year, and a incredible fireworks display above Edinburgh Castle to top it off. This is then followed by a joining of hands as the crowd sings Auld Lang Syne, a kissathon, and more partying into the wee wee hours both on the street and around the city.
1st January 2012 – Loony Dock
Warning. This is not for the faint of heart, in fact one probably does need to be a little mad and brave to do this. The name “Loony dook” says it all.. It is a combination of “Loony” (short for “lunatic”) and dook, a Lowland Scots term meaning “dunk”. This year will be Edinburgh’s 26th Loony Dock and for those unfamiliar with this event, on the first day of every year a select brave few hundred people dress up in ridiculous outfits and throw themselves into the freezing cold water of the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry, just a few miles out of the Scottish capital. With the skirl of bagpipes urging them on and probably a screw loose somewhere in their head, the crowd of humanity makes a mad dash into the watter and (most of them) quickly retreat back to the bar. Some stay in much longer – up to half an hour. Jokes aside, these Loony Dockers claim that the bone-chilling shock to their system is the perfect hangover cure after the festivities of the huge Hogmanay street party in Edinburgh of the night before.
For visitors and travelers planning to visit Edinburgh this December and take part in the Hogmanay Festival, consider staying at Fraser Suites Edinburgh, a luxury boutique hotel in Edinburgh city centre.
This gleaming new Edinburgh hotel – with restaurant, gym and self catering facilities – offers comfortable short and long stay Edinburgh accommodation. Ideal for corporate guests, business travellers, families and couples enjoying a city break in Edinburgh, Scotland. Set in a stunning 1750s sandstone building on historic St Giles Street and steps away from the Royal Mile, Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle, the hotel also provides a city centre shuttle bus, but most top Edinburgh attractions are within easy walking distance, including the National Gallery of Scotland and Arthur’s Seat. Restaurants, bars, cafés and shops surround this fantastically located hotel in Edinburgh’s Old Town.
Fraser Suites Edinburgh accommodation includes several categories of room to suit your needs. Apartments boast full self-catering facilities, while even Classic rooms have a fridge, microwave, crockery and cutlery. All rooms in this top Edinburgh hotel offer high-speed internet, iPod docks and daily maid service.
Taking in mind the Hogmanay Festival, book your stay at Fraser Suites Edinburgh between 1 Nov 2011 to 29 Feb 2012 and enjoy special perks! All part of the Frasers Hospitality’s Holiday Extravaganza!
Package perks includes:
– Stay for 5 nights and pay for 4!
– Complimentary daily Scottish breakfast
– Complimentary Wi-Fi connection
– Free bottle of sparkling wine with every purchase of 2 Set 3-course dinners at Broadsheet Bistro
– Rates are inclusive of VAT
During your stay, you will enjoy:
– Daily housekeeping services
– Welcome amentities
– Access to recreational facilities