Hogmanay organisers want to party an extra day

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ORGANIsers of Edinburgh’s world-famous Hogmanay celebrations have said they want to extend the event by an extra day, as the Capital welcomed 2015 in spectacular style.

Hogmanay mastermind Pete Irvine said he wants to have four days of festivities, and also wants to bring back the Night Afore carnival on George Street and expand the New Year’s Day programme of events – but only if funding can be found.

Around a thousand people took the plunge into the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry for the annual New Year's Day Loony Dook. Pic: HEMEDIA

Around a thousand people took the plunge into the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry for the annual New Year's Day Loony Dook. Pic: HEMEDIA

Despite seeing the event grow into the world’s biggest New Year party since taking the reigns in 1993, Mr Irvine warned it was under threat from cuts and rising security and safety costs due to the sheer number of people taking part.

He said: “Our problem with Hogmanay is that we just have too many people. They all have to be kept safe – it’s not just the costs of security, it’s everything that goes with that. Because of the huge crowd numbers we are getting for our events, we need to put more and more funding into the management of those crowds.

“The event is a great advert for the city as the pictures from it go right around the world. It is of incalculable worth. But it’s an event that gets more expensive every year because more people come.”

The success and popularity of the event – which brings an estimated £30 million to the Scottish economy – were again visible on Wednesday night, as a crowd of more than 75,000 revellers descended on the city to enjoy the street party.

Locals and visitors from all across the globe flooded Princes Street and the surrounding area to give 2015 a warm Scottish welcome.

Fireworks were set off every hour from 9pm to add to the excitement, and an eclectic music line-up – including Edinburgh’s Young Fathers and Twilight Sad, folk star Eddi Reader and funk group Soul II Soul – got everyone in the party mood, while dancers enjoyed a fully-booked open-air ceilidh on The Mound.

Pop star Lily Allen headlined the sold-out Concert in the Gardens – pausing for the midnight countdown and spectacular fireworks display to welcome the new year – while alternative headliners Twin Atlantic kept the party going on the Waverley Stage.

Revellers were relieved that the weather stayed dry, and said that the fun-filled night had an atmosphere like no other.

It was the first Edinburgh Hogmanay for Karen Wroughton from Nottingham, and the 47-year-old said: “It’s fantastic. It’s everything I expected.

“It’s such a welcoming, celebratory atmosphere.”

And Anthony Behan, 32, from Sheffield, said: “I’m having a great time. The fireworks were amazing. It’s my first time here at Hogmanay and it’s fantastic.”

Featuring a hit from each year since 1954 and broadcast on six massive screens around Princes Street, Australian DJ Tom Loud’s Hot Dub Time Machine event proved a popular addition to the sell-out party programme.

There were complaints of crushing at the top of The Mound during the event, with about 200 people scaling the spiked barriers next to the Scottish National Gallery shortly after 10pm to escape the crush.

By 11.30pm, a further 200 people clambered over barriers to get into a “safe area” at the top of The Mound, while the area in front of the New College had to be opened to the public by police to ease the crowding.

Organisers issued safety messages online urging revellers to remain calm, and said police and stewards had been on hand at all time to ensure public safety.

Police praised the behaviour of revellers.

Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, Edinburgh Policing Commander, said: “Edinburgh has once again set the standard for a spectacular start to the new year. It’s been a fantastic night and the vast majority of people have enjoyed themselves responsibly.

“There were only three arrests at the street party and those were for minor public order offences such as breach of the peace.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very safe and peaceful 2015.”

New Year’s Day saw hardy souls brave the depths of the freezing Firth of Forth for a madcap swim to shake off their New Year hangovers.

Despite the wind and the pouring rain, more than 1000 people took part in the annual Loony Dook event.

The bold swimmers took the plunge in the waters below the Forth Bridge in South Queensferry, with other sessions happening along the coast, including Portobello, Dunbar and North Berwick.

Edinburgh Lord Provost Councillor Donald Wilson joined the Dooker Parade where brave participants – led by the Beastie Drummers – paraded in costume through the High Street in South Queensferry, cheered on by hundreds of spectators. The first-time Dooker said: “It was great to be a part of, and really good fun.”

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com