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 excitement.

In addition to spectacular events from Shetland down to the Scottish Borders, these magnificent fire festivals are a fantastic way to end the Year of Food & Drink 2015.

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

Nethy Bridge Torchlight Procession 31 December 2015
Nethy Bridge, The Highlands
See a river of fire light up the charming Highland town of Nethy Bridge. Join the crowds at 6.30pm and follow the piper through the streets before sipping on mulled wine, tucking into stovies and enjoying music and fireworks. A fantastic way to end the year!

Stonehaven Fireballs 31 December 2015
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 2015
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 to 2015.

Burning of the Clavie 11 January 2016
Burghead, Moray, The Highlands
Back in the 1750s, the old Julian calendar was reformed and the Gregorian calendar was brought in, but the residents of Burghead have continued to celebrate the ‘old Hogmanay’ on the 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 26 January 2016
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 ends with the iconic burning of a replica Viking Longship.

Find more events and activities to keep you warm this winter with our FREE guide, The A to Z of Winter in Scotland, or check out VisitScotland’s events pages for more inspirational things to see and do in 2015.

Dates and times are subject to change.

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Miriam Brand-Spencer

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

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