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We will add new information for Hogmanay as it becomes available but most events are fairly similar each year. In this section, we cover all the things you should know before you go from what exactly is Hogmanay to what to wear to how to find family friendly events.
Although Hogmanay is generally regarded as the most important Scottish holiday, the origins of both the word and the traditions are obscure.
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Many people think that the term comes from French but there are also theories that it may have Gaelic, Norse, or Anglo-Saxon origins. The traditions, as with most modern holidays, likely grew from pagan ones and many were probably also adapted from Christmas.
So it is likely that the modern Hogmanay traditions have some origins back in the 17th century while others are much more recent. Older Hogmanay traditions and customs that are still practiced include gift giving, house blessing and sometime cleaning , and the custom of first-footing. First footing is tied to the belief that the first person to cross the threshold in the New Year will bring the fortune to that household, bad or good, for the coming year. The most desirable first-foot visitors at least in Scotland are tall, dark men who come bearing gifts.
Good traditional gifts include whisky obviously! Most people in Scotland celebrate Hogmanay with meals, music, and dancing, and many towns have special customs or sporting events. The festival has allowed more visitors to participate in the Scottish holiday which has been traditionally celebrated in small gatherings and in private homes. In , there was an estimated 75, people came to celebrate the beginning of Those wanting to know more about this history of Hogmanay and even how to plan your own Hogmanay celebration at home, may want to check out this book.
So you will definitely want to be in Scotland on December 31st if you want to celebrate Hogmanay. However, there are also celebratory events on the day before Hogmanay as well as the day or so following Hogmanay. As noted above, Hogmanay is technically just one day but the Hogmanay celebration in Edinburgh as well as in other places in Scotland lasts for about 3 days. The big events include a torchlight procession and other entertainment on December 30th, a massive outdoor street party, concerts, and fireworks on December 31st, and then the Loony Dook a morning dunk in a river and smaller public entertainment options on January 1st.
Some events may also take place on January 2nd, which is a public holiday in Scotland but not the rest of the UK. Yes, for most events you do need tickets.
There are always some free and unticketed events, but the majority of the official events do require tickets. Tickets are required for participating in the Torchlight procession, most of the family and children events, the Candlelit Concert at St. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone, or in person at a box office in Edinburgh.
You can check out the main ticketed events and get tickets here.
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But some Hogmanay events you can certainly do for free without a ticket. For instance, you can watch the Torchlight Procession and Loony Dook as a spectator for free without a ticket and do the Message in the Skies events.
You can also view the firework displays for free from a number of places within the city, although you will not have access without a ticket to the Street Party or concert event locations such as Princes Street Gardens and the Mound.
Some events require tickets but are free. So definitely book ticketed events in advance if you can to avoid disappointment. Booking early will give you more options within your price range. I would recommend booking things 3 months in advance or more if you can, but as far ahead as you can is advisable. So if the event you want to attend is not available yet, keep checking back. So be sure to buy tickets for events once you know your dates! Hogmanay events take place all over the city as well as all over the country but the main Hogmanay celebration centers around Princes Street Gardens in central Edinburgh.
Although the exact locations of the events and torchlight procession route change each year, most events will be in or around Princes Street Gardens, the Waverley train station, The Mound , the Royal Mile, and Calton Hill.
There are usually also special events at some of the museums and attraction such as the National Museum of Scotland. All of these locations are within walking distance from one another and located in central Edinburgh. The only annual major event that always takes place outside central Edinburgh is the Loony Dook. You can drive, take a public bus, book a taxi or Uber, or go by train to Dalmeny from Edinburgh.
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There are also usually special bus transfers arranged just for the Loony Dook that you can book. The short answer is yes you can. But you will need to check the times and walking time between events.
A Guide to Celebrating Hogmanay in Edinburgh Scotland
You can choose to attend as many as you wish but since all the major events are ticketed separately, most people choose one of two evening events. For example you might go to the Candlelit Concert at St. Giles and then head to the Ceilidh, or go to the Street Party and then to the Concert. Note that this year, the Concert in the Gardens tickets allow entry into the Street Party as well. So these two are easy to combine in one night if you wish. Many people just choose one evening event such as the Street Party, Ceilidh, or Concert in the Gardens to enjoy as these each run all evening until 1am.
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If you are planning to attend one of the evening festival events, each will have stands offering food and drinks within the ticketed area. So if you are OK with street food, that is one option. The other option is to go out for dinner prior to coming to the festival as most events will not allow you to exit and return. Many restaurants offer special Hogmanay holiday menus.
Be sure to book in advance. Hogmanay is a busy time in Edinburgh, with tens of thousands of visitors coming to join in the celebration. However, the numbers are now restricted through ticketing due to safety concerns to about ,, but there are still a lot of people. Even the Street Party is not too crowded before 10pm so going early is a good way to enjoy the events in the early evening. You can also look out for VIP and Premium entry tickets normally available for the Concert in the Gardens that give you access to prime viewing areas for the fireworks and concerts in less crowded areas.
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The most crowded events are definitely the Street Party and the Concert in the Gardens although a Premium ticket area is not that crowded , so you may want to avoid these and focus on other events such as the Ceilidh, the candlelit concert at St. The Torchlight Procession draws a lot of people but because the procession route is long, it is fairly easy to grab a good viewing spot.
Located in The Hub a Victorian built to be a church , ticketed guests were offered half a bottle of champagne, buffet dinner, VIP, seating, live music, and private bars.
You can also add-on discounted tickets to the Street Party so you can access the Party. Before midnight, guests are escorted if they wish to an exclusive area at street level outside to view the midnight fireworks from the building.
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Many venues hold a Hogmanay event that normally includes dinner, drinks, dancing, and live entertainment. Some packages also include Street Party passes. Looking for something more formal and fancy? Yes, it can be.
The outdoor events at Hogmanay, including the torchlight procession, street party, and fireworks may be cancelled if the weather is particularly bad, especially if it is deemed that the weather makes for unsafe conditions. So far the main Hogmanay celebrations have only been canceled twice and Note that tickets for most events will not be refunded for weather-related cancellations.
Indoor events will still be happening, and you can also always head to a pub or restaurant to celebrate as many will have special Hogmanay menus and entertainment. You also get really good views from along Princes Street from the Street Party, just be sure you head to a location with a good view of the castle before midnight.
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Just remember that the fireworks are designed to be view from Princes Street Gardens and are shot from Edinburgh Castle, so you just need to find a spot to stand where you have a good view of Edinburgh Castle and the space above it.
Most people head to a spot that is accessible just outside the boundaries of the Street Party. Just note that these are popular places at midnight so get there early to get a good spot. Also be sure to check on road closures and event closures to make sure these spots are accessible. Also note that a few hotels have good views of the fireworks from balconies, terraces, and rooftops, so be sure to ask if yours happens to have a good viewing area.
However, in the Street Party, there are street edges and ledges where you can sit down to have a brief rest but there are no dedicated seating areas or benches.
So be prepared! But there are seated events or events that include seating such as the Candlelit Concert, Hogmanay HQ, concerts in McEwan Hall, and most of the children and family events. Those with physical mobility issues should check out the Accessibility information for the events to help guide in their planning. Most events are accessible to those in wheelchairs.
Check the weather before you leave to help with packing. Events run late into the evening so it may be colder than you might expect, especially if it is windy or if it rains. Check out this Hogmanay packing list which gives you some more specific advice of what to pack, bring, and wear during the Hogmanay events and Loony Dook.
I would say yes, but I would choose the events best suited for families as some are more family friendly than others and some events do NOT allow children under a certain age.
For instance this year children under age 12 were not permitted at the Street Party or the Concert in the Gardens. However, t here are events each year that are specifically organized for families such as afternoon music events and early evening fireworks for families who want to avoid the biggest crowds and be home before midnight.
In terms of the regular events, children are welcome with an accompanying parent to take part in the Torchlight Procession, afternoon concerts and events, candlelight concert at St.
Giles, the ceilidh dancing, and Loony Dook. Also, many restaurants, pubs, and hotels will be hosting special dinners and entertainment so you should have no trouble finding a family friendly place to celebrate. Yes, you have a few options.
Many are aimed at the younger budget traveler. The Hogmanay tours start from either London or Edinburgh. If you are looking for a guided budget tour to get to and around Edinburgh during Hogmanay and elsewhere in Scotland, here are some tour options.
They range from 4 to 7 days in Scotland and include a guide, bus transport, and hostel accommodation. If you are traveling from London to Edinburgh and like to party, this party train tour is a great way to travel to and from Edinburgh. Includes return train tickets, a bottle of prosecco, and Hogmanay Street Party ticket. Edinburgh has a fairly compact city center, with the majority of attractions being easily accessible by foot or public transit. We would not recommend a renting a car unless you are planning to leave the city as many roads around the city center will be closed for the holiday events and finding parking can be difficult.