One of the most famous Scottish holidays is Hogmanay, the traditional celebrations on New Year’s Eve and the days that follow. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival is the largest in the world, and features days (and nights) filled with spectacles, concerts, shows, parades, dances and more – it’s an event not to be missed! Even if you don’t want to take part in the legendary Stoats Loony Dock, where hundreds of crazy revellers jump into the freezing waters of the River Forth, there are plenty other attractions to see. Here is our pick of the best Edinburgh Hogmanay festivities:
Count down to midnight at Old Town Ceilidh
What better way to celebrate the end of 2016 and welcome in the new year than with some Scottish music and dancing in the historic old town? The Old Town Ceilidh with Belhaven is one of the most anticipated events on the Edinburgh Hogmanay calendar – held across two stages in the magnificent Parliament Square, you can listen to some of country’s most famous musicians, learn traditional Scottish dances and enjoy terrific local food from Belhaven Brewery. As the clock strikes 12am, you can watch the stunning Midnight Moments show, a dazzling display of fireworks that lights up the Edinburgh skyline.
Listen to the Candlelit Concert
Before you head to the Old Town, you can stop by the Candlelit Concert at St Giles’ Cathedral. On December 31, enjoy 1.5 hours of beautiful classical music from renowned composers such as Bach, Fasch and Mozart. St Giles’ Cathedral is one of Edinburgh’s most iconic cathedrals and dates back to the 14th century. It’s located right in the heart of the historic Old Town so you can wander around the streets and stop for a lovely dinner after the concert.
Get your culture fix at Scot:Lands
Art lovers won’t want to miss Scot:Lands, a festival curated by the most innovative artists and musicians in the country. Over the course of the afternoon on 1 January, ticket holders will have the opportunity to discover performances of spoken word, dance, music and film in 11 of Edinburgh’s most exclusive venues, many of which are normally closed to the public. You’re assigned your venues randomly and then you walk from one to the other, as if you’re crossing several lands. If your New Year’s resolution is to get a bit more culture in your life, then you’ve come to the right place!
Dine out in style
Another quieter way to celebrate Hogmanay is to treat you and your partner to a decadent NYE dinner in any of Edinburgh’s standout restaurants. Edinburgh has several Michelin-starred eateries, including The Kitchin, Number One, Martin Wishart and 21212. For something a little more low-key, try The Honours, famous for its steaks, the historic Witchery restaurant, or gastro pub The Scran & Scallie. No matter what you feel like, whether it’s Thai, Indian or traditional Scottish fare (haggis, anyone?), you’re sure to find it in Edinburgh.
See Edinburgh’s sites
There is always plenty to do in Edinburgh even if you don’t join in with any of the special Hogmanay celebrations. It’s a beautiful and compact city, so it’s easy to simply wander around the streets and take in the gorgeous architecture and atmosphere. A must-see attraction is Edinburgh Castle, home to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Climb up to the top for a stunning panoramic view over the entire city and spend some time exploring the ancient ruins, the Scottish National War Memorial and the One O’Clock Gun. Other places worth visiting are the Craigmillar Castle, Abbey and Palace of Holyroodhouse, Greyfriars Kirkyard and the Grassmarket area.