Edinburgh's Hogmanay to celebrate Scotland's European links in run-up to Brexit
Edinburgh's Hogmanay festival will become a European love-in to mark the last festivities before Brexit is due to take effect.
Singers, musicians and performers from Spain, France and Germany will take centre stage as part of a drive to celebrate Scotland’s connections with Europe.
Messages expressing Scotland’s love for Europe will be beamed around the world from historic sites across the city for nearly a month.
Organisers, who are staging the event under the banner of the phrase “we love you,” have unveiled one of the most international line-ups in the 25-year history of the event to coincide with the run-up to Britain’s departure from the European Union.
An Ibiza-themed club night, Germany techno acts and marching bands, and French street theatre groups have all been booked for the three-day festival, which will expand into Edinburgh University’s historic McEwan Hall for the first time.
The Scottish Government is to fund a £180,000 project which will see six leading Scottish writers have been commissioned pen their own “love letter to Europe.”
The words will then be projected into historic buildings around the city throughout January under the second year of a partnership between Hogmanay producers Underbelly and the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
Thousands of torch-bearers will create the image of a giant love heart at the centre of a map of Scotland in the festival’s traditional fire parade curtainraiser.
It will weave its way down the Royal Mile to Holyrood Park for the finale event of the Scottish Government’s Year of Young People.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay fireworks display, which will run for nine minutes, will be set to a soundtrack specially created by the German “techno-marching band” Meute, while street carnival acts taking to Princes Street in the run-up to midnight will include French outfits Compagnie Transe Express and Compagnie Des Quidams.
Underbelly, who were brought in by the city council as new producers of the festivities last year, will launch a new long-term collaboration with Glasgow’s Celtic Connections music festival by staging two New Year’s Day concerts in the McEwan Hall, featuring Scottish supergroup Capercaillie and Spanish piping Carlos Nunez.
Ibiza DJ Andy Joyce will be masterminding a McEwan Hall event which will celebrating 20 years of club music on 30 December, after the torchlight procession has finished.
Germany dance music stars Snap! - who are best known for 1990s hits The Power and Rhythm Is a Dancer - and superstar Ibiza DJ Judge Jules will be among the acts to perform at the street party.
Scottish acts to appear at the street party include rising singing sensation Gerry Cinnamon, one of the biggest draws at main stage of this year’s TRNSMT festival in Glasgow, and Elephant Sessions, winners of the best album honour at the Scots Trad Music Awards.
Underbelly director Charlie Wood said insisted there had been no political interference in the programming of this year's festival, which receives around £1.1 million in public funding.
He said: "If you go back to the origins of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1947 it was a response to what had been happening in the world and to try to bring people together through culture.
“Edinburgh’s festivals have a proud history of responding to what’s going on in the outside world.
“Hogmanay in Edinburgh has always been about opening a door to the rest of the world and saying: ‘come and celebrate your new year in our country and city.’
"Hogmanay is at the end of Scotland and the UK’s last year in the European Union, but they will still be part of Europe, regardless of your political views.
“We are still part of Europe and still proud of our cultural links, connections and ties to Europe. It is right and proper, we think, to respond to that and have a celebration of all things European and Scottish at Hogmanay.
"There has been absolutely no political interference this year. The theme came out of brainstorming about how we should celebrate this year.
"It was a genuine response to the fact Edinburgh and Scotland will still be firmly culturally, socially and historically part of Europe."
Underbelly director Ed Bartlam added: “This is an opportunity to celebrate the ties that Scotland has with the rest of Europe and also do something a bit different with the programme.
“We have blended European artists with lots of Scottish artists. There is more of a European feel throughout all the strands of the programme.”