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Hogmanay in Edinburgh

Concerts, ceilidhs and fireworks over the Castle, Edinburgh knows how to ring the New Year in with style.

What is Hogmanay?

767px-EdinburghNYEA historic Scots word meaning, ‘the last day of the year’, Hogmanay now refers to the New Year celebrations held throughout Scotland. The word dates back to the early 17th century, though the festive tradition likely began long before that, influenced by Norse and Gaelic seasonal celebrations.

In addition to the usual fireworks and revelry, certain festive customs characterise the Hogmanay tradition, including:

  • First-Footing – Part of Scotland’s Hogmanay folklore, this tradition involves welcoming the first person to cross the threshold of your home after midnight on New Year’s Eve. The ‘first-foot’, traditionally a tall, dark-haired male, delivers a good-luck gift of coal, salt, black bun, whisky, fruitcake or shortbread.

  • Singing ‘Auld Lange Syne’ – After the clock strikes midnight, New Year’s revelers in cities across the globe join together in a chorus of ‘Auld Lange Syne’. This tradition is rooted in Scottish Hogmanay and the song’s lyrics were written by the beloved Scottish poet, Robert Burns. Take note: unlike in other countries, Scots only cross their arms and link hands at the beginning of the final verse.

How does Edinburgh celebrate Hogmanay?

800px-Procession_Calton_HillTorchlight Procession | 30th December

To open the Hogmanay celebration, Edinburgh hosts a spectacular torchlight parade. Led by Shetland’s Up Helly Aa’ Vikings, tens of thousands of visitors and locals, fire torches in hand, proceed through the city to the sound of pipes and drums.

The event is free and unticketed, though you can purchase a torch for £8 in advance or £10 on the day, with proceeds going to local charities. Click here for more information.

Candlelit Concert at St. Giles | 31 December

Every New Year’s Eve, before the big street party kicks off, visitors and locals are invited to gather in the historic St. Giles Cathedral for a candlelit, classical music concert. The concert features the St. Giles Cathedral Choir with the St Giles’ Camerata, as well as a number of young soloists.

Click here for more information.

Outdoor Ceilidh | 31 December

It’s only right that this historic Scottish celebration include one of the country’s favourite pastimes: ceilidh dancing, of course. On New Year’s Eve, Edinburgh hosts the UK’s largest outdoor ceilidh on the Mound Precinct near the National Gallery.

Tickets to the Hogmanay ceilidh are sold separately from the standard street party admission. Click here for more information.

3155345399_7974e29922_oConcert in the Gardens | 31 December

As part of its famous street party, Edinburgh hosts a massive concert in West Princes Street Gardens, right under the Castle. Previous headliners include Blondie, the Scissor Sisters and Kasabian, to name a few.

Tickets for the Concert in the Gardens are sold separately from the standard street party admission. Click here for more information.

Street Party | 31 December

Renowned as one of the best New Year’s Eve parties on the planet, Edinburgh’s famous street party is the pinnacle of its Hogmanay celebrations. Every year, 80,000 people fill Princes Street to enjoy live music, outdoor bars and an incredible fireworks display over the Castle.

Click here for more information.

The Queensferry ‘Loony Dook’ | 1 January

Brrrrrr! Scotland’s bravest head to Queensferry on New Years day to enjoy an annual dip in the Forth (for charity, and for bragging rights). The 25-year-old tradition begins with a parade down Queensferry High Street and ends with a giant, freezing-cold splash.

Click here for more information.

Edinburgh Hogmanay Accommodation

Any one of our VieAmhor apartments will be an ideal place to call home during your visit to Edinburgh for New Year’s Eve.

If you prefer to skip the street party and host your own cosy shindig instead, the roof terrace of our one-bedroom Royal Mile apartment is a brilliant spot to watch the midnight fireworks. Or, fancy a New Year’s holiday with a group of friends and family? Our luxury Hillside Residence comfortably sleeps 18.

To book Hogmanay accommodation in the heart of the city centre, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

View All of Our Edinburgh Apartments


Fireworks image by Robbie Shade via Wikimedia Commons, Torchlight image by photojenni via Wikimedia Commons, Concert image by Kate Wllington via Flickr