Celebrating the New Year is famous no matter where in the World you happen to be at that magical hour, but of all the places I’ve found myself in on New Year’s Eve, the place that impressed me the most was Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh.
There’s nothing to compare to the traditions of a Scottish ‘Hogmanay’ (New Year). It focuses on the gathering of families to each others’ home, the sharing of traditional Scottish fare, including shortbread and a dram or two of whiskey, and the playing of music and singing and dancing well into the night. So if you’re a visitor to this fine city and are looking for a family of your own to bring in the bells with, then you’ll find some unique kin of your very own – with around 100,000 adoptive family members as it happens – crowded into one of Edinburgh‘s most famous locations, Princes Street. This is the scene for one of the World’s biggest street parties, with out-sized television screens, live street DJ’s and open-air bars and non-stop celebrating as we say ‘out with the old, and in with the new’.
Set in the street below iconic Edinburgh Castle, the city will extend its celebration this year to include four whole days of spectacular and truly eclectic events, from torch light processions from the Royal Mile to Calton Hill, traditional Scottish Ceilidh dances and a concert in the Princes Street Gardens, to a highly publicized ‘sprint’ race over 1400m that’s open to amateurs and offers a top award of £20,000 – not a bad way to kick off a New Year. As with most New Year Celebrations there will be big name stars, from KT Tunstall to The Charlatans, entertaining you until the wee small hours and let’s not forget the spectacular fireworks display or the countdown to midnight that culminates with a firing of the Mons Meg cannon from the Castle turrets.
The best way to enjoy this event is by immersing yourself in the culture of Scotland; brave the cold as you wear a kilt for the first time, and revel in the traditional sound of the Scottish bagpipes as it echoes its way through the streets. And when the moment finally comes, and that last bell tolls, you’ll join hands with the strangers around you and join the other 100,000 voices to sing the old Scots song about good times, Auld Lang Syne.
This celebration is so popular that a few years ago it became a ticketed event to prevent increasing problems with overcrowding. Tickets go on sale early and sell out fast, so if you think you’ll find yourself in this corner of the World around the end of the year, don’t leave it too long or you’ll miss out on all the fun.