Edinburgh’s Hogmanay: Assembly Rooms takes centre stage under festival expansion plans
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Unique Events and Assembly, the event companies which stage the festival on behalf of the city council, will be transforming the 18th-century building – one of the best-known Fringe venues in the New Town for decades.
It will be turned into an official Hogmanay Festival Club for all four days of the event, with live music, comedy, ceilidh dancing and children’s entertainment all due to be staged.
Highlights of the Assembly Rooms programme include a new Bairns New Year Revels, which will allow families to celebrate Hogmanay together, and an expansion of the festival’s First Footin’ culture trail to the New Town.
The Hogmanay Festival Club will open on December 29 with a comedy night, with Edinburgh-born singer-songwriter Blue Rose Code headlining a Night Afore Hoolie on December 30.
Cult Fringe show Massaoke will be part of the New Year Revels line-up on Hogmanay and is also part of a Night Afore Disco Party in Princes Street Gardens, which will be headlined by the long-running Australian Abba tribute outfit Björn Again, more than 20 years after their debut at the event.
Assembly, who run the Assembly Rooms as a Fringe venue in August, and Unique have already unveiled plans to revive the traditional torchlight procession for the Hogmanay festival, which is being held over four days for the first time in more than a decade and will be headlined by Britpop icons Pulp.
Live bands will be performing on Waverley Bridge under plans to expand the capacity of the Hogmanay street party by 10,000 to 40,000 for this year’s festival.
An official announcement from Unique-Assembly said: “The New Year cheer will spread across the city centre with a new four-day programme of indoor events in collaboration with the famous Assembly Rooms on George Street.
"The New Town venue will be transformed into the Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival Club, presenting a packed programme of live music, comedy, dancing and family events.
"The return of the New Year Revels on December 31 will see revellers birlin’ through the bells courtesy of Edinburgh’s finest ceilidh bands, live DJs, and festival favourites Massaoke providing a sing-a-long soundtrack and the final countdown to a spectacular midnight moment.
“A special Bairns New Year Revels event will take place earlier in the day, allowing young party-goers a chance to join the celebrations, with a family-friendly Massaoke and ceilidh extravaganza.”
Council leader Cammy Day said: “I’m really proud that we’re able to offer such an exciting and eclectic programme for our residents and visitors as part of our winter festivals’ celebrations. It’s really exciting that this year there is a new four-day programme of events at the Assembly Rooms.
"It’s fantastic to see another great addition to this year’s already stellar line-up. I’m sure Björn Again will make sure there are no shortage of dancing queens when they take to the stage for the Night Afore Disco Party.”
Rod Stephen, a founding member of Björn Again, who have been performing around the world since 1988, said: “There have been many shows with amazingly responsive audiences, but I don't think you can ever top an Edinburgh Hogmanay crowd.”