Edinburgh revives Hogmanay street party, gardens concert and midnight fireworks

Edinburgh's Hogmanay festival is to be revived this year, with a torchlight procession, street party, open air concert and fireworks concert above the city.

Monday, 25th October 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Monday, 25th October 2021, 12:19 pm

All the main elements of the city’s year festivities will be returning in scaled-back form after plans secured the backing of the Scottish Government and the city council.

The festival will start a day earlier than normal, on December 29, for the first of a series of indoor concerts in the historic Greyfriars Kirk, featuring singer-songwriters Dougie MacLean and Eddi Reader, and trad stars Breabach.

Message From The Skies, the project which has seen the work of writers, musicians and artists transform historic buildings, will also return and run until January 25.

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Fireworks light up the sky over Edinburgh during the celebrations to herald the arrival of 2020. Picture: Ian Georgeson

However, organisers of the revamped festival – which is being backed with £1.1 million in public funding – have cut crowd capacities for the main events to make the festival as Covid-safe as possible.

Vaccine passports will be needed by anyone aged 18 and over to secure entry to the main street party and to take part in the torchlight parade.

The latter’s capacity is being cut from 20,000 to 15,000 and ticketholders will be asked to collect torches from either Waverley Bridge, Parliament Square or Bristo Square before the parade – which will have an extended running time of five hours – heads down the Royal Mile to Holyrood Park.

The three-hour “Party at the Bells” will have a capacity of just 30,000, compared to 60,000 in recent years, with the east end of Princes Street, Waverley Bridge and Rose Street all dropped from the ticketed arena.

Edinburgh's annual torchlight procession will be returning as part of the city's revived Hogmanay festival.

To help spread the crowds out, the main arena will be kept clear of bars and stalls this year, while street performers from the Netherlands will promenade along Princes Street.

All tickets will be going on sale at 10am on Tuesday, with 7,500 tickets discounted for people with EH postcodes.

However, the headliner, who will perform before a 3,500-strong crowd in Princes Street Gardens, which normally plays host to more than 9,500 revellers, is yet to be announced.

Footage from their concert will be beamed live onto giant screens inside the main arena.

More than 70,000 revellers flocked into Edinburgh city centre for the Hogmanay festivities to herald the arrival of 2020. Picture: Liam Anderstrem

Underbelly director Charlie Wood said: "We’ve had a really good relationship with the council, the Scottish Government and other agencies, working out what is possible and the best thing to do for the event, for the city and for Scotland.

“The festival has been very much designed as a celebration to mark the end of this year and the start of next year, as a defining moment for Edinburgh, but also for the rest of the world to see how the city and Scotland bring in the new year.

"Obviously given where we are with Covid, the ‘Party at the Bells’ will have a reduced capacity than previously.

"The arena will be slightly smaller, but there will be a lot less people and infrastructure this year. There will be much more space for people to move around. It’s all about making it safe and comfortable.”

Singer-songwriter Dougie Maclean will be performing as part of Edinburgh's Hogmanay festival. Picture: Rob McDougall

Depute council leader Cammy Day said: " Edinburgh is the home of Hogmanay and it’s fantastic that this year we see the return of in-person events and that celebrations will return to the streets.

"There is an unmissable programme this year, which will support economic recovery, safely bring people back together and welcome in the new year with a renewed sense of optimism.”