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Hogmanay & New Year in Scotland

Why would you choose a New Year break in Scotland? Well, no other nation in the world celebrates the New Year with quite as much revelry and passion as Scotland does, and it's hardly surprising that the enormous Hogmanay celebration that engulfs the country is legendary the world over.

Hogmanay is what we Scots call New Year's Eve - 31 December - the big night that marks the arrival of the new year. Its origins reach back to the celebration of the winter solstice among the Vikings with wild parties in late December.

But whatever the scale of the event and wherever it's held, Scotland's Hogmanay celebrations guarantee a warm welcome and more new friends than you ever knew you had, all in a frenzy of goodwill! At midnight, sing along with Auld Lang Syne. For an unforgettable Hogmanay break, it's got to be Scotland.

Hogmanay in Edinburgh

Edinburgh's Hogmanay - When it comes to Hogmanay, Edinburgh certainly knows how to put on a show whether it's the enchanting torchlight procession, the famous Edinburgh Hogmanay street party and spectacular firework display or a toe-tapping ceilidh and concert in Princes Street Gardens.

This year Edinburgh Hogmanay 2021 is back together and celebrating the start of a new year in person! From the 29 December 2021 - 1 January 2022 join in with a whole host of events, parades, parties and more.

Book your tickets for the events that take your fancy, from the Party at the Bells and the Torchlight Procession, to performances from Dougie Maclean, Eddi Reader and Breabach, to name a few - you'll be in for a festive few days to celebrate Edinburgh's New Year 2021 in style!

When the clock strikes midnight, gather your friends and family to raise a toast to a much brighter 2022!

What to look forward to at Hogmanay 2021

In 2021, enjoy three days of fantastic atmosphere and unforgettable memories. It must be experienced to be believed!

30 December - Torchlight procession

Torchlight Procession

Join the revellers and get the party started! In Scotland, New Year's carousing gets underway when thousands of torch-bearers join Up Helly Aa's Vikings, pipes and drums. Together, they march through the heart of Edinburgh with flaming torches, creating a river of fire down the historic Royal Mile to Holyrood Park for the finale and closing celebrations. Book tickets now!

31 December - Hogmanay Street Party

Princes Street welcomes the merrymakers to one of the greatest events on the planet (and we mean it!) - Party at the Bells. Set beneath the spectacular backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, dance the night away with Street Access or at the Gardens Concert, featuring incredible live music, entertainment, DJs, giant screens, and outdoor bars.

As the bells strike midnight, admire the world-famous Edinburgh Hogmanay Midnight Fireworks on the castle ramparts. And make sure you don't leave before Auld Lang Syne - a national sing-along where you join hands with friends you just met from across the globe in its biggest rendition in the world.

1 January - The Loony Dook

Loony Dook

And if you need something to clear your head the morning after, why not take part in the (literally) breathtaking Loony Dook, the annual splash in the River Forth at South Queensferry? Take part in the Dookers Parade through the High Street before taking the plunge in the freezing Forth with the iconic Forth Bridges as a backdrop. And don't forget your fancy dress! Or you could just sleep in.

Other Hogmanay highlights to look forward to in 2021

It's not just Scotland's capital that knows how to throw a New Year celebration! Here are some fantastic and unique ways to 'bring in the bells' in other parts of Scotland for Hogmanay 2021.

A Red Hot Highland Fling in Inverness

Red Hot Highland Fling crowd © Scottish Provincial Press

Scotland's biggest free Hogmanay celebration can be found in the capital of the Highlands, Inverness. The family-friendly Red Hot Highland Fling will be celebrating this year on the banks of the River Ness in Northern Meeting Park, with music, fireworks and more here to entertain the crowds for Inverness Hogmanay.

Stonehaven Fireballs

Stonehaven Fireballs

In Stonehaven they really turn up the heat at New Year! One of many winter fire festivals unique to Scotland, this fireballs parade in Aberdeenshire is a powerful spectacle to behold. It's a free Hogmanay event which has been celebrated for over 100 years and it always attracts a large crowd. Traditionally, it was a cleansing ritual to burn off any bad spirits left from the old year so that the New Year can begin clean and purified. Watch in awe as the piper leads the procession marching down the street just before midnight as they swing balls of fire above their head in the ultimate test of bravery for the ultimate Stonehaven Hogmanay.

The Biggar Bonfire 

An enormous pile of wood gradually starts to stack up in Biggar town centre in the final weeks of the year in preparation for the South Lanarkshire town's own New Year celebration. Lit at 9.30pm on New Year's Eve, Biggar Bonfire sees the welcoming of a New Year by the townsfolk in a warm, fiery glow.

Drams in Dufftown

Dufftown

Dufftown in Speyside is known as the 'malt whisky capital of the world'. While most of its New Year celebrations are much the same as you would find in small towns and villages up and down the country, it has its own special twist. After the annual Hogmanay ceilidh at a local hotel, the community gathers in The Square where drams of whisky and pieces of shortbread are shared out to see in the bells, courtesy of the local Glenfiddich distillery and Walkers biscuit factory. Slainte!

Aberdeen's Traditional Scottish Hogmanay

For something a little different, enjoy a traditional Hogmanay ceilidh at the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen, with music from the Hipflask Ceilidh Band. Aberdeen Hogmanay won't disappoint!

Burghead's Burning of the Clavie

Burning of the Clavie

The residents of Burghead in Moray don't celebrate their New Year on 31 December. Instead, they ignore the Gregorian calendar introduced in the 1750s and continue to celebrate 'old Hogmanay' on 11 January instead. They parade the clavie - a wooden barrel filled with wooden staves - through the town before setting it alight on a nearby hill, smouldering well into the next day. The origins of the festival are subject to debate, but as it takes place later than the official New Year's Eve, it's the perfect excuse to celebrate twice!

Comrie Flambeaux

Like many of Scotland's famous fire festivals, the Comrie Flambeaux is likely to be pagan in origin - when fire was used to warn away evil spirits of the old year - but no one in this Perthshire village is certain of when it first began. On New Year's Eve, eight or so lit torches, some nearly 10 ft in height, parades around the small village at midnight. Comrie's Hogmanay will see the procession accompanied by music, people in fancy dress and general merriment and celebration before the torches are thrown into the River Earn.

Hogmanay House at MagicFest

2021 sees the return of MagicFest where Hogmanay House is back to showcase magic, storytelling and live music. Delve into this 75-minute performance at the exquisite Royal Scots Club in the Edinburgh New Town, on the 30th December where you can explore the history and origins of Hogmanay! This year features an incredible line up of performances, including Scottish singer songwriter Ainsley Hamill, talented musician and composer Ron Jappy, silver-tongued storyteller and wand-maker Jock Ferguson, sleight-of-hand maestro Lewis Barlow ,and mentalist Drew McAdam.

Everything You Need to Know About Hogmanay

There are many old Hogmanay rituals and customs that are celebrated in Scotland to this day. The origins of many of them are unknown, but many are believed to bring good luck for the New Year.

Why is the event called Hogmanay?

'Hogmanay' is the Scottish word for the last day of the year, and is associated with New Year's Eve and the celebrations that come with it. It is still unsure where the name originated from, but it is believed the word may have come about during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots and thought to be derived from the French word 'Hoginane' meaning 'gala day'.

What are the main Hogmanay traditions?

  • First-footing - to ensure good luck, the first foot to arrive in your house on New Year's Day should be a dark-haired male (believed to be a throwback to Viking days when blonde strangers arriving on your doorstep meant trouble). The first-footer should also bring symbolic gifts, such as coal, shortbread, salt, black buns or whisky, to ensure good fortune for the year ahead.
  • Clean the house - to begin the New Year with an unclean house is considered bad luck. Houses used to be cleared throughout to welcome the New Year into a tidy and neat house, including taking out the ashes from the fire in the days when coal fires were common.
  • Clear your debts - an old superstition states that you should try to clear all your debts before the stroke of midnight.
  • Sing Robert Burns' Auld Lang Syne after midnight - this custom is a staple of Hogmanay parties across the country (and many countries around the world too!). After the bells at midnight, join in a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne to start the New Year in real Scottish style.

What do Scots say at Hogmanay?

At the bells in Scotland, people usually shout 'Happy New Year' before embracing friends and family.

What is the difference between Hogmanay and New Year?

Hogmanay is New Year's Eve (31 December) and New Year is referring to New Year's Day (1 January). Hogmanay celebrations in Scotland often continue into New Year's Day and even to the 2 January.

Why is Hogmanay so big in Scotland?

Hogmanay has ancient origins in Scotland. Long before the arrival of Christianity, Scots were celebrating the arrival of a new year around the time of the winter solstice (the shortest day), which is technically the 21-22 December, but the arrival of the Romans and their calendars changed this. Plus... who doesn't love a party?!