IT’S the biggest party of the year and once again the world has been invited to share in the celebrations as Edinburgh waves goodbye to the old and toasts the year ahead in its own unique style.
The Capital’s famous street party is celebrating its 20th anniversary in some style this year, and is again the centrepiece of a wide array of events and festivities which have helped ensure that Edinburgh is the place to be for the bells.
Artistic director Pete Irvine, below, has been there from the very beginning, but he is still as enthusiastic about the event as ever – and while it’s the massed crowds of raucous revellers that grab the headlines, he is in no doubt that it is the wider programme of events, including the hugely popular Torchlight Procession and the celebration on New Year’s Day itself, which have helped to cement the city’s reputation at home and abroad.
He says: “It’s always a huge event, and we have another amazing street party planned which will rightly get a lot of attention, but that is not what sets us apart from the rest of the world. For anyone watching the celebrations on the TV it will seem like any other display, albeit with an impressive Castle. London in recent years has started using the same organisers as us for the fireworks. But again this year there’s so much more going on, especially New Year’s Day, and it’s about making sure people are entertained right throughout the festival.”
This year, the organisers are inviting revellers to shake off their hangovers by rolling the dice on Lucky 13, and taking pot luck on a range of events at venues around the city centre.
“At the end of it all we will be holding a spectacular story of the Big Bang,” said Mr Irvine. “That’s the kind of event that for me stands out in the mind and it’s what people remember this festival for.”
YOUR GUIDE TO THE ACTION
• 11am-12.30am (Jan 1): Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Carnival. Described as “not for the faint-hearted”, the Market Street event boasts the “stomach-churning” Dive Bomber, the exhilarating Sticky Wall and a terrifying haunted house.
• 7.30pm-9pm: Candlelit Concert in St Giles’ Cathedral. St Giles’ Cathedral Choir, directed by Michael Harris, with the St Giles’ Camerata, leader Angus Ramsay, are joined by a stunning array of young soloists.
• 9pm-1am (no entry after 11pm): The Concert in the Gardens, featuring headline act Simple Minds, one of the most successful Scottish bands of all time.
• 9pm-1am: Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party. The original and best New Year celebrations in the world, with 80,000 people expected to party beneath the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. Featuring live music and entertainment, DJs, giant screens, outdoor bars and the world-famous fireworks.
• 9pm-1am: The Keilidh at the Street Party. Experience the very best in traditional Scottish music at the spectacular outdoor ceilidh event, with outdoor dancefloor, bar and food village.
NEW YEAR’S DAY
• Noon, Holyrood Park: Dogmanay follows Hogmanay with Alaskan malamute, Canadian Eskimo dogs, Greenland dogs, Samoyed and Siberian huskies. They will treat onlookers to a free and exhilarating afternoon of knockout racing using sleighs, racing rigs and scooters.
• 12.30pm, Royal Commonwealth Pool: Hardened athletes will take part in Edinburgh’s Hogmanay New Year’s Day triathlon, which starts with 400m in the Royal Commonwealth Pool, followed by an 11-mile cycle around Arthur’s Seat and a 3.5-mile run to finish off.
• 1.30pm, South Queensferry: The Dookers Parade, which kicks off the annual New Year tradition of The Loony Dook, when scores of people are again expected to brave the freezing temperatures and dunk in the Firth of Forth in the good name of charity.
• 1.30pm, National Museum of Scotland: Lucky Day starts with participants encouraged to roll a set of dice to determine which of a selection of venues they will visit.
• 5.30pm, Buccleuch Place: The day’s events culminate with Big Bang, a spectacular street theatre show by French company Plasticiens Volants.