Magical occasion provides a warm farewell to 2011

Son et Lumiere Finale light and firework display. Calton Hill

Son et Lumiere Finale light and firework display. Calton Hill

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IT’S one of the most magical sights of Edinburgh’s annual events calendar – a river of fire snaking through the city centre, bathing the Capital in a warm orange glow.

Let Edinburgh’s Hogmanay commence.

More than 20,000 people are expected to attend this year’s Torchlight Procession and its Son Et Lumiere finale tomorrow.

A single spark will ignite this year’s festivities when the first torch is lit in Parliament Square, with the procession departing from outside St Giles’ Cathedral at 6.30pm.

The ultimate family event, the Torchlight Procession has become recognised as the start of Edinburgh’s famous Hogmanay celebrations, with tens of thousands lining the route to watch as the city is illuminated by flickering flames.

As always, the procession will start in the Royal Mile, meandering its way to the top of the Calton Hill.

Torch bearers will be led through the Capital by 17 of Shetland’s fierce-looking Up Helly Aa vikings, as well as massed pipes and drums – five bands and a total of more than 100 pipers and drummers ensuring a stirring atmosphere.

Although it’s free to watch, there is a charge to take part in the procession. Wax-based torches cost £6 in advance and £7 on the night. Last year’s event sold out so, to avoid disappointment, it is recommended that you book early.

Torches are available from the City Chamber Quadrangle from 2pm on the day. Proceeds from the sale of torches go to both Radio Forth Cash for Kids and Barnardo’s Scotland.

The spectacular finale to the Torchlight Procession, the Son Et Lumiere light and firework display, will begin an hour-and-a-quarter later.

Advice for those marching is to collect torches early and dress for the weather. For those watching, it’s simple – find a vantage point high above the city and you will be rewarded with a spectacular image, a dramatic river of fire flowing from the Royal Mile to the Calton Hill, a hypnotic sight as you watch the flames leap and dance as they would in a good old-fashioned coal fire.

Torchlight Procession, from Parliament Square to Calton Hill, tomorrow, 6.30pm, torches from www.edinburghshogmanay.com