16 top tips for things to do in and around Edinburgh on New Year’s Day

A group from Sao Paolo at the 2018 Loony Dook at South Queensferry.
A group from Sao Paolo at the 2018 Loony Dook at South Queensferry.
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It’s New Year’s Day and many shops and businesses around the Capital will be enjoying a day of rest after a hedonistic Hogmany - but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. Here are 16 top tips for things to do in and around Edinburgh on 1 January.

The Loony Dook, 12.30pm, South Queensferry

Hundreds of people kick-start the new year by braving the cold waters of the Firth of Forth. The Noise Committee drummers will lead the Dookers’ Parade along High Street before the first dookers jump in at 12.30pm.

First Footers Family Ceilidh, 12.30pm, McEwan Hall

Start 2019 on the right foot with this family-friendly event set in this beautiful 19th-century landmark.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra: New Year Gala Concert, 3pm, Usher Hall

Upbeat Viennese waltzes and polkas from the Austrian Strauss family and performed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra are a great way to start the new year on a high note.

New Year’s Day Raceday, 10.30am, Musselburgh Racecourse

Gather for an action-packed day of racing, live music and competitions before a DJ set by Funkwagen. The traditional Hogmaneigh Hurdle, this year valued at £30,000, is not to be missed and seasonal food and drink will help soak up the party atmosphere.

Carlos Nuñez and Special Guests, 8pm, McEwan Hall

As well as the legendary Galician piper’s regular band, Nuñez will be joined by guests including the diatonic accordionist Itsaso Elizagoien and Canadian fiddler and stepdancer Jon Pilatzke.

Wendy and Peter Pan, 2pm and 7pm, The Royal Lyceum Theatre

Adapted by Ella Hickson and directed by Eleanor Rhode, this performance of Scottish writer JM Barrie’s classic is full of magic as it follows the story of Wendy and Peter Pan, who fly to Neverland to defeat the villainous Captain Hook.

Turner in January, noon, Scottish National Gallery

New Year’s Day sees the opening of this exhibition packed with inspiring watercolours created by JMW Turner and bequeathed to the gallery by renowned collector Henry Vaughan.

Grimm in Leith, 10am, The Roseleaf, Leith

An exhibition by self-confessed design geek Emma Westwater, from Dunbar, who re-imagines the Grimms’ folk tales through papercut art and jewellery.

The Giant Lanterns of China, 4.45pm, Edinburgh Zoo

More than 450 bespoke lanterns celebrating both Chinese and Scottish folklore will light an enchanting trail throughout the zoo.

New Year’s Day Pie Festival, 2pm, Three Sisters

Whether it is a classic steak pie or something a little bit different, the student-friendly Cowgate pub’s street food market will be serving up all kinds of pies.

Capercaillie, 4.30pm, McEwan Hall

The Scottish folk band will invite musicians to join them in a performance to celebrate the sounds of the European family of nations.

Society of Scottish Artists 121st Annual Exhibition, 12pm, Royal Scottish Academy

This forward-thinking exhibition brings together more than 180 new and established Scottish and international artists to showcase installation, video and performance works among printmaking, painting and sculpture.

Letters from the Skies, various locations

Six international writers have collaborated on this project to celebrate Scotland’s links with Europe by writing love letters which will be projected on to buildings such as Leith’s Custom House, The Scottish Monument and Tron Kirk.

Portobello Park Run, 9.30am, Figgate Park

There are few ways better to recover from the Hogmanay celebrations than by going for a run. Organised by a team of volunteers, this free timed event is for all paces from beginner right through to expert and is ideal for kick-starting those New Year’s resolutions.

Embroidered Stories, 12pm, National Museum of Scotland

This unique exhibition provides an insight to the lives of children in the 18th and 19th centuries who created small pieces of needlework. This exhibition runs until April and the museum, with a vast collection of items of nature, art, design, fashion and science and technology offers a fun, family-friendly afternoon out on New Year’s day.

Holyrood Palace Tour, 6pm

Designed for groups up to 25, these private tours are a rare opportunity to go behind the ropes in selected rooms and learn about the Queen’s official Scottish residents and its intriguing past. The West Drawing Room, used by the royal family as a sitting room, it has one of the 17th-century building’s most impressive plasterwork ceilings.