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Getting To Grips With Hogmanay In Edinburgh

There is no denying Edinburgh is a city famed for its amazing festivals. And while the August Festivals are known the world over, there is only one festival that is truly close to a Scots heart – and that is Hogmanay. Hogmanay is by far the biggest day in our festive calendar. And where better to celebrate this age-old Scottish festival than with Hogmanay in Edinburgh?

Friends celebrating New Year's with a champagne toastWhat Is Hogmanay?

Simply put, Hogmanay is the Scottish version of New Year’s Eve. And like all things we Scots do, it is bigger and better. Many believe Hogmanay originated when those pesky Norse invaders came to shore, but the truth is the origins of the word “Hogmanay” and the many variations of Hogmanay celebrations that come with it are unclear. The only thing we do know for sure, is that when it comes to celebrating winter festivals in Scotland, Hogmanay makes Christmas in Edinburgh pale by comparison.

Torchlight procession in EdinburghWhat Is The Big Deal?

Believe it or not, until very recently, we Scots did not celebrate Christmas. Christmas was effectively banned for 400 years. In fact, it was not until 1958 that Christmas even became a public holiday in Scotland. And it would take Boxing Day almost another 20 years more to be recognised as a festive holiday. So instead of setting up a Christmas tree, roasting turkey and unwrapping presents, we celebrated Hogmanay instead.

Celebrating Hogmanay In Edinburgh

People enjoying a New Year's Eve partySince Hogmanay literally had to make up for missing Christmas, the Hogmanay Festival is a three-day-long festival of torchlight processions, unbelievable street parties and a pyrotechnic display to rival Guy Fawkes’ plans to level the Houses of Parliament. On the 30th of December, the festivities get underway with the annual torchlight procession from the historic Royal Mile all the way up to Calton Hill. And since Calton Hill is literally next-door to the Parliament House Hotel, joining in the burning fun could not be easier. On the 31st of December, Princes Street comes alive with the world-famous Hogmanay Street Party. As the clock strikes twelve, an amazing midnight Firework’s display is launched from Edinburgh Castle, arms are linked and Auld Lang Syne can be heard from miles around. Finally, on the 1st of January we make our way to the Firth of Forth to mark the New Year with the annual Loony Dook – a bizarre Edinburgh Hogmanay tradition where you plunge yourself into the freezing cold water (often dressed in something equally bizarre).

So there you have it. Everything you need to know about Hogmanay in Edinburgh, our favourite Hogmanay traditions and some interesting facts about Scottish history. Is it any wonder celebrating Hogmanay in Edinburgh is at the top of so many bucket lists?

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