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5 Scottish Fire Festivals That Will Warm Your Heart This Winter

Miriam Brand-Spencer - View Comments

It’s time for us to wrap up warm and take to the streets to fight the darkness with spectacular winter fire festivals in Scotland! 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 Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016.

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

Hogmanay Torchlite Procession and Family CeilidhNethy Bridge, Highlands

31 December 2016, 6:30pm  

See a river of fire light up the charming Highland town of Nethy Bridge at the Hogmanay Torchlite Procession and Family Ceilidh. 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 Ceremony, Aberdeenshire

Stonehaven Fireballs, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

31 December 2016, 10:30pm 

Bringing in the New Year with flames from the old, Stonehaven Fireballs Ceremony 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!

The Biggar Bonfire, South Lanarkshire

Biggar Bonfire, Biggar, South Lanarkshire

1 December 2016

Biggar is already preparing for what promises to be one huge fiery celebration – the annual Biggar Bonfire. 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 2017.

The Burning of the Clavie, Burghead, Moray

Burning of the ClavieBurghead, Moray, The Highlands

11 January 2017

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 with the Burning of the Clavie. 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.

The nighttime procession of Up Helly Aa in Lerwick, Shetland

Up Helly Aa, Lerwick, Shetland

26 January 2017, 7:30pm 

What could be better to end the season than with Europe’s largest fire festival? Every year the historic event of Up Helly Aa 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 or Christmas & Winter Festivals for more inspirational things to see and do in 2016.

Dates and times are subject to change.