Torchlight procession: A flaming good start

The torchlight procession makes its way down the Mound, and below, along Princes Street. Photos: Ian Georgeson/Phil Wilkinson

The torchlight procession makes its way down the Mound, and below, along Princes Street. Photos: Ian Georgeson/Phil Wilkinson

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Thousands of revellers got the Capital’s Hogmanay celebrations under way last night with a spectacular torchlight procession through the city centre.

More than 6500 people took part in the procession, carrying torches through the streets to Calton Hill, where they were treated to a fireworks display.

The procession was led by 17 Lerwick Up Helly Aa Vikings and five pipe bands with more than 100 pipers and drummers, and it was estimated a record crowd of more than 27,000 spectators enjoyed the event, despite damp weather.

The procession marked the start of the city’s Hogmanay celebrations, which will this year feature the longest firework display in the history of the event.

A total of 5.5 tonnes of fireworks, producing more than 15,000 stars, will be let off during the display over Edinburgh Castle.

Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh’s festivals and events champion, said: “This year, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay was recognised by Wanderlust Magazine as the best place to celebrate the turn of the year – confirming what we’ve known for a long time. I’m delighted that so many of this year’s events are at capacity already. It promises to be a sensational start to 2012.”

Visitors are expected from more than 50 countries for the three-day event, with thousands flying into Edinburgh this week, and the events are expected to generate more than £27 million for the city’s economy.

Residents are also reminded streets around the city centre will be closed off from 6pm tonight.