Edinburgh Hogmanay: New Torchlight Procession route through Edinburgh's historic Old Town revealed

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New Edinburgh Torchlight Procession route to start at the Meadows

Edinburgh Hogmanay’s Torchlight Procession is set to make a return for this year’s 30th anniversary celebrations for the first time since 2019, blazing a trail on a brand-new route through the city’s Old Town towards a fiery final location beneath Edinburgh Castle.

The event on Friday, December 29 marks the start of New Year celebrations as organisers join forces with presenting partner EventScotland and local charity Social Bite partner, shining a light on homelessness, to kick-off four days of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festivities.

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The spectacular event will see up to 20,000 people carry a torch on a brand-new route, creating a stunning river of fire throughout Scotland’s capital. The procession will begin at the Meadows for the first time ever, where guests will be entertained while collecting their torches, with live street theatre, fire performers, pipe bands and drummers to start the Hogmanay celebrations early.

The Noise Committee's Judyta Tulodzieck, EventScotland’s Rebecca Edser, UniqueAssembly’s Penny Dougherty, Social Bite’s Josh Littlejohn MBE and Circus Alba's James Armandy. Photo by Duncan McGlynn.The Noise Committee's Judyta Tulodzieck, EventScotland’s Rebecca Edser, UniqueAssembly’s Penny Dougherty, Social Bite’s Josh Littlejohn MBE and Circus Alba's James Armandy. Photo by Duncan McGlynn.
The Noise Committee's Judyta Tulodzieck, EventScotland’s Rebecca Edser, UniqueAssembly’s Penny Dougherty, Social Bite’s Josh Littlejohn MBE and Circus Alba's James Armandy. Photo by Duncan McGlynn.

Thousands of torch carriers will set off on the new route up Middle Meadow Walk, crossing George IV Bridge and making their way along Johnston Terrace before reaching a picturesque finishing point on Castle Terrace beneath Edinburgh Castle. The new route will see the procession pass some of the capital’s most famous landmarks including the National Museum of Scotland, Greyfriars Kirkyard, the Tolbooth Kirk and the National Library of Scotland.

Leading the procession through Edinburgh’s historic Old Town will be Shetland’s South Mainland Up Helly Aa’ Jarl Squad, who previously made history when they appointed their first ever female Jarl.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland director of events, said: “Scotland is the perfect stage for events and EventScotland is delighted to be supporting the return of the Torchlight Procession, kicking off four days of fantastic Hogmanay revelries across the city as part of this year’s 30th anniversary celebrations.

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“Events play an important role in our communities, enabling us all to connect and share memorable experiences. The Torchlight Procession along with the wider Hogmanay programme offers a uniquely authentic cultural experience for both visitors and locals to come and enjoy, and I look forward joining everyone on December 29 as we blaze a trail on the brand-new route.”

Noise Committee's Judyta Tulodzieck and Circus Alba's James Armandy are ready for the Edinburgh Torchlight Procession. Photo by Duncan McGlynn.Noise Committee's Judyta Tulodzieck and Circus Alba's James Armandy are ready for the Edinburgh Torchlight Procession. Photo by Duncan McGlynn.
Noise Committee's Judyta Tulodzieck and Circus Alba's James Armandy are ready for the Edinburgh Torchlight Procession. Photo by Duncan McGlynn.

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is produced by Unique Assembly, presented on behalf of principal funding partners City of Edinburgh Council.

City of Edinburgh Council culture and communities convener, Councillor Val Walker said: “We’re absolutely delighted to see the return of the Torchlight Procession and the new route to this year’s Hogmanay celebrations. This element of the programme was always extremely popular with residents and visitors alike and I’m sure it will be again this year for the 30th anniversary celebrations.

“I’m also really pleased to see the partnership work between the organisers and Social Bite, to raise vital funds and awareness for their excellent work supporting vulnerable people in Edinburgh and more widely across the country.

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“Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and our wider Winter Festivals are cornerstones of our globally acclaimed cultural calendar and I’m sure that this year’s special anniversary edition will once again be a success.”

EventScotland's Rebecca Edser, UniqueAssembly's Penny Dougherty and Social Bite's Josh Littlejohn MBE. Photo by Duncan McGlynnEventScotland's Rebecca Edser, UniqueAssembly's Penny Dougherty and Social Bite's Josh Littlejohn MBE. Photo by Duncan McGlynn
EventScotland's Rebecca Edser, UniqueAssembly's Penny Dougherty and Social Bite's Josh Littlejohn MBE. Photo by Duncan McGlynn

With an anticipated sell-out event ahead, organisers aim to raise over £50,000 throughout the festival to fund Social Bite projects tackling homelessness, with £2 from each torch sold and £1.50 from procession tickets donated directly to the charity.

Al Thomson, co-director UniqueAssembly, who produce Edinburgh’s Hogmanay said: “Hogmanay is a time for celebration and reflection, heralding in new beginnings and opportunities for the coming year, with many making New Year resolutions to help make things better for others. Working in partnership with our friends at Social Bite, we want to help their fight to end homelessness across Scotland, giving those who have fallen on hard times the chance of new beginnings and opportunities in 2024.

"We’re delighted to be able to bring back the Torchlight Procession for our 30th anniversary celebrations with support from EventScotland, and would encourage everyone to join us, carrying a torch for charity and shining a light on homelessness in Scotland.”

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For the first time at the family-friendly event, performers from Edinburgh’s Beltane Society will delight crowds in the Meadows at the start of the event with entertainment from 6pm. The Torchlight Procession will then move off on its journey through the capital at 7.30pm, ending underneath Edinburgh Castle on Castle Terrace at 8.30pm/ 9pm.