You have got to love the Scottish. There are not many places in the world where you celebrate the Gregorian New Year over multiple days. Hogmanay is a three day new year's eve festival starting on the 30th of December and ending on the 1st of January. It is celebrated all over Scotland, with the main festivities partaking in the capital of Edinburgh.
Day 1: 30th December Torchlight Procession
A torchlight procession is a parade where you carry a real fire lighted wax torch around Edinburgh Old Town with 40,000 other revelers. You get to be an Olympian carrying the torch to the opening ceremony! I found it quite a sight seeing the flames illuminating faces and streets in the Old Town. The Edinburgh Old Town provides a great medieval backdrop for the parade. Hence the procession has a historical atmosphere of a crowd going into battle or that of an angry mob hunting down witches. Fun fact I learnt on a walking tour was that Edinburgh has a rich history of witches!
The torches are very safe to carry. A barrier protects your hand from the wax dripping down. As the torch burns away the flame gets closer and closer to your hand. Not to worry as the organisers have thought it all through. Along the route are pit stops to extinguish your torch by dunking it in water and bins to dispose of the remaining part. The organisers are also so nice that they put on a song and firework celebration after the torchlight procession. The event starts around 8:30pm at Calton Hill and you don't want to miss it.
Day 2: 31st December Street Party
This is the main Hogmanay event as it counts in the new year. The street party is held in the city centre on Princes Street. It starts at 9pm and lasts till midnight. Do note Edinburgh is much colder in December as it is winter. Dress warm as you will be outdoors for at least 2 hours. In contrast to the torchlight procession, the street party is a more boisterous, lively and energetic event. Rather than having one big fireworks show, get this; there are 4 smaller firework displays leading up to midnight . I'm telling you the Scottish just know how to celebrate new year.
The main fireworks kick off at midnight. It is beautiful to see the impressive Edinburgh Castle feature as setting for the pyrotechnics. Shortly after midnight Robert Burns' Auld Lang Syne is played onto the speakers and sung by the locals. The beer in my system, encourages me to unsuccessful try to sing/lip sync too. Tip for new Hogmanians: learn the lyrics to the excellently composed song.
Day 3: 1st January Loony Dook
On the first day of the new year the South Queensferry Loony Dook takes place. What the fook is a Loony Dook? By analysing the words; loony means crazy and dook is a Scottish word for the word dunk. The crazy dunk refers to the act of dunking your body into the cold waters of the River Forth. River Forth is located 16 kilometres (10 miles) from Edinburgh. The event begins around 1:00pm which provides you with ample time to recover from last night activities. In case you are still nursing a sore head, the chilly dip is said to work wonders on your hangover. I didn't have time for the Loony Dook as I was flying out in the afternoon.
Hogmanay is a three course event fit for a king. The torchlight procession is an entree, followed by the main course of the Street Party, and finished by the Loony Dook dessert. Sign up to Travelendar's newsletter to ensure you don't miss out on knowing about this spectacular event and many more.