Edinburgh’s main Hogmanay celebrations will be transformed by parkour performers, wall runners, trapeze artists, fire throwers and giant puppets, the new organisers of the event have revealed.
Groups of pipers, drummers, ceilidh dancers, choir singers and DJs will help stage a series of “communal moments” throughout an extended six-hour party on Princes Street.
The main entrances to the arena will be turned into replicas of tenement flats with teams of acrobats and other aerial performers offering a new twist on the traditional Hogmanay welcome.
Fun Lovin’ Criminals frontman Huey Morgan will appear above the crowds on a specially-created “floating stage” towering above thousands of revellers on Castle Street.
Still Game star Sanjeev Kohli will hosting his own TV show around the arena, which will be beamed onto giant screens at the event, along with highlights of the various music acts appearing at the festivities.
New special effects are expected to light up the 60,000-capacity arena under plans drawn up by a team of directors, producers and designers who have worked on the opening and closing ceremony of the London Olympics, the Queen’s golden jubilee celebrations, Royal Shakespeare Company productions and videos for The Pet Shop Boys and The Rolling Stones.
Three-metre tall “granny puppets” will greet revellers entering the arena, as part of a programme of entertainment which will get under way at 7pm – two hours earlier than in previous years.
Other highlights are expected to include a face-off between an all-girl piping group, street theatre from LED drummers Spark! – whose dazzling outfits and instruments are expected to light up the arena.
Aerial artists All Or Nothing will stage dramatic performances on the facades of buildings along Princes Street, while acrobats, dancers and artists will perform on four new podium stages.
New organisers Underbelly, which already runs the hugely-popular Pride parade in London, has previously vowed that Edinburgh’s festivities would be “recreated, refreshed and re-energised” for the 25th event, which will run for three days.
A major shake-up was ordered ahead of the 25th event as part of a bid to help Edinburgh step up competition with rival cities like London, Hong Kong, Sydney and New York.
They will be staging an early evening fireworks display and children’s concert for the first time and creating a soundtrack for the first ever Hogmanay fireworks display which will be choreographed to music by Niteworks, the Skye-based band, who are also appearing at the street party, and will run for nine minutes rather than five as in previous years.
Also booked to appear on the three live music stages are 1980s pop icons The Human League, Scottish Album of the Year winners Sacred Paws and Scottish festival favourites Treacherous Orchestra.
The Hogmanay festival is being headlined by soul star Rag’n’Bone Man, who won the best British album honour at last week’s BBC Music Awards.
Underbelly has revealed that more than 40 street performers, the vast majority of them Scottish, will be appearing over and above the live acts.
Director Ed Bartlam said: “We really wanted to extend and grow the entertainment on and around Princes Street. It’s going to feel very different. The original idea was to look at what makes Hogmanay special – the idea of going ‘First Footing’ and people opening their doors for a house party.
“The first thing people will see at the three main entrances will be enormous big walls which will have different ‘tenement doors’ in them. Some of them will open for acrobats to pop out of but you will walk through others to get into the arena, where giant granny puppets will be waiting to hug you.
“There will be a tightly- choreographed programme of different performers popping up at different intervals throughout the evening.
“We’re doing a live outside broadcast which will be shown on eight giant screens throughout the arena. We’re going to have cameras on all the stages so throughout the night we will be showing various clips of different acts on the big screens.
“Although we’re putting more stages and entertainment in this year, we still want people to feel part of the party if they’re between the stages.”
Donald Wilson, culture leader at the city council, said: “The countdown to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is on and one thing is for certain – this will be like no other celebration you’ve been to before.
“From aerial acrobatics to parkour, audiences will enjoy entertainment wherever they turn, with podiums placed all over the arena, and bands and DJs performing live all night.
“Be quick, get your ticket and first-foot it into 2018 with us as we host a distinctly Scottish tradition in a bold new way.”