THE eyes of the world will be watching the Capital tomorrow night, with 80,000 revellers set to flood the city centre for the annual Hogmanay street party.
The celebrations will kick off “Scotland’s big year”, where events such as the Commonwealth Games and MTV Music Awards in Glasgow, the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and, of course, the independence referendum.
Tickets for the event, which will also be broadcast on 13 screens throughout the street party arena, have been purchased from more than 60 countries around the world, including Australia, Brazil, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malta, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey and the United States. As a result, both policing and security services will ensure bilingual staff and interpreters are available on the night.
And the party will be televised in far-flung corners of the globe, with live pictures being broadcast in 150 countries. It’s estimated that the Hogmanay celebrations bring £27 million to the city’s economy alone, and more than £30m to Scotland as a whole.
Pete Irvine, director of Unique Events, which has produced Edinburgh’s Hogmanay in partnership with the council since 1993, said: “People will be hearing a lot from Scotland this year, as 2014 will be the biggest event year Scotland has ever had and is ever likely to have. However, we are used to big events here – Edinburgh’s Hogmanay event is the biggest TV event by far in Scotland, being watched throughout the night on one billion television screens across the world.
“It’s a profile for the city you couldn’t buy.”
The festivities kick off tonight at 7pm with the breath-taking Torchlight Procession, where 35,000 people, led by Shetland’s Up Helly Aa’ Vikings, will parade through the streets carrying lit torches, accompanied by six pipe bands made up of more than 100 pipers and drummers. A limited number of torches will be available to purchase at the event for £10 and a portion of the proceeds from all torch sales will go to Barnardo’s Scotland and Radio Forth Cash for Kids.
Tomorrow night, the sold-out Candlelit Concert at St Giles’ Cathedral, which this year features classics of the Baroque period, begins at 7.30pm, and is led by St Giles’ Cathedral Choir and a “stunning array” of young soloists.
Those seeking a more traditional, but less sedate, New Year will also be flocking to the sold-out Keilidh at the street party, kicking off at 9pm on The Mound precinct. It shouldn’t be too difficult to keep warm on the outdoor dancefloor as the professional ceilidh caller puts the crowd through its paces, but attendees to all events have been advised to wrap up in warm, waterproof clothing, with early forecasts suggesting there could be stormy weather at certain points of the evening.
The official street party, which is spread across three different stages, will also be keeping with the Scottish theme, with much of the music provided by homegrown artists and groups.
At 8.30pm, the Concert in the Gardens, which is expected to draw crowds of 8500, begins its countdown to the New Year with Edinburgh band The 10.04’s, followed by Edinburgh-born singer- songwriter Nina Nesbitt.
Next up are Manchester band The 1975, but the moment most are waiting for –before midnight, that is – is the headline slot from pop gods the Pet Shop Boys, who will be performing an array of their hits from a career spanning nearly 30 years. The Pet Shop Boys’ appearance will be made all the more special by the fact it is seven years overdue – the band were due to welcome 2007 to the Capital but the street party had to be cancelled at the last minute due to severe weather. Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant said the band always felt they had some “unfinished Hogmanay business in Edinburgh”.
Over on the Rewinder Stage, DJs Swiss and VJs Buttercup and Pixels will be playing a specially selected four-hour set, with continuous hits from and connected to our nation, alongside “celebrated film and TV moments” highlighting everything from local heroes Andy Murray and Sir Chris Hoy to world-changing Scottish inventions such as the television, penicillin and the drink many will be reaching for to soothe their hangovers on Wednesday – Irn-Bru.
Fiddler’s Bid, King Creosote and Treacherous Orchestra are keeping spirits high on The Scottish stage, with William Douglas, Glasgow band Chvrches, Edinburgh College of Art’s own Django Django and The Rezillos welcoming 2014 on the Waverley Stage.
Chief Superintendent Mark Williams of Police Scotland said the newly combined force would continue to follow the policing model laid down by Lothian and Borders in previous years, which has consistently seen low numbers of arrests, generally for minor offences.
Ch Supt Williams said: “This is a significant year for Police Scotland, our first as a single police service. We will continue policing the event in much the same way as in years gone by, taking a community policing approach, with a focus on communication and openness which we feel plays through to the atmosphere of the party itself. The vast majority of the 300 officers in the immediate vicinity of the street party will be local officers.
“We would ask those attending the street party to pick up tickets in advance if possible and to also ensure they know how they are going to get home afterwards, either by booking taxis or checking bus timetables. By all means, celebrate and have a drink, but do it in a way that makes it a night to remember for all the right reasons.”
While Hogmanay revellers are advised to wrap up warm, on New Year’s Day it’s all about getting cold and wet as 1100 people wade into the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth for the annual Loony Dook. All participant tickets have now been allocated, but it’s never too late to join the 3000-plus spectators cheering on the hardy souls as they brave the cold for charity.
Fun times right up your street
Edinburgh’s official Hogmanay street party celebrates its 21st birthday this year, and there will be a huge range of events taking place.
The official entrances to the street party for ticket holders are at either end of Princes Street, Bank Street and on South St David Street, while exits are on South St Andrew Street, Hanover Street, Frederick Street, North Castle Street and St Giles’ Street.
There will be large screens set up along Princes Street, as well as two in West Princes Street Gardens, one on The Mound and one at the top of Mound Place. In addition, bars will be set up along Princes Street and on The Mound.
And a first aid station will be taking care of any injured revellers at the corner of Waverley Bridge and Princes Street.
City centre road closures for Hogmanay include:
• Princes Street will be closed from 6pm today to allow organisers to set up the main area of the street party. It will reopen at 10am on New Year’s Day.
• George Street will close from 9.45pm on December 31, reopening at 4.15am January 1.
• North Bridge will be closed from Chambers Street down to Princes Street from 10pm on December 31, reopening at 10am on January 1.
• The foot of Lothian Road, Shandwick Place, Rutland Street and South Charlotte Street will be closed from 7pm on Hogmany, reopening at 4.15am on January 1.