Warming up the winter nights

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It’s time for Scotland to wrap up warm and take to the streets to fight the darkness with spectacular winter fire festivals! Flickering flames are fascinating when they dance in the dark, perhaps because they have the ability to both support life through their warmth, but also the power to devastate it. Whatever the draw, Scotland has a long history of brightening dark winter nights with great displays of fire, and the season approaches with much hast.

This year a number of Hogmanay celebrations will not only include fireworks and high jinks, but also spectacular displays to countdown to and welcome the Year of Homecoming 2014 – so make sure you keep your eyes peeled and your cameras ready.

See below to find out what’s burning, and when:

Aviemore Torchlight procession 24 December 2013
Aviemore, The Highlands
On Christmas Eve, Santa and his reindeer will arrive at the main village hall and join a torchlight procession around the town, including a free feast of mince pies and mulled wine.

Hogmanay Torchlight Procession 30 December 2013
Led by Shetland’s Up Helly Aa Vikings and the massed pipes and drums, this popular event sees Edinburgh’s city centre turn into a river of fire and culminates in a fantastic Son et Lumiere show and firework display. Be sure to get your torch nice and early!

Stonehaven Fireballs 31 December 2013
Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire
Bringing in the New Year with flames from the old, Stonehaven Fireballs Festival is a rather unique occasion which has been held for at least 100 years. Just before the bells toll at midnight the pipe band heralds in the procession who walk down the street swinging great balls of fire above their heads in a hot display of bravery. Followed by a firework display and much jubilation, there is also entertainment before the parade from 11pm. Be warned – this is a popular free event, so make sure to arrive early for the ideal viewing points!

Biggar Bonfire 31 December 2013
Biggar, The Scottish Borders
Biggar is already preparing for what promises to be one huge fiery celebration. The wood is beginning to pile up and will be lit at 9.30pm on New Year’s Eve, creating an immense, warming welcome in to 2014.

Burning of the Clavie 11 January 2014
Burghead, Moray, The Highlands
Back in the 1750’s the old Julian calendar was reformed and the Gregorian calendar was brought in, but the residents of Burghead have continued to celebrate the old New Year on 11th January to this very day. The clavie, traditionally a wooden barrel filled with staves, is paraded through the town and up to the top of a local hill where it will burn well in to the next day.

Up Helly Aa 28th January 2014
Lerwick, Shetland
What could be better to end the season than with Europe’s largest fire festival? Every year this historic event attracts visitors from both near and far and marks the end of Yuletide. Join the thousand-strong torchlight procession which is ends with the iconic burning a replica Viking Longship.

Check out VisitScotland’s events pages to find more inspirational things to see and do in 2014.

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Miriam Evans

Miriam likes baking, sewing, BBC Radio 4, living in Scotland and promoting it with VisitScotland!

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