Four Days of Celebration!
New Year's Eve - or as we call it in Scotland, Hogmanay - is a great night to celebrate as families and friends gather together to welcome in the New Year. Over four days from 29th December to 1st January there will be an exciting Carnival party atmosphere with outdoor entertainment, concerts, street theatre, music, dancing, sporting events and fireworks. The temperature might be a little cool, but you'll soon heat up by watching a parade of the pipes and drums and joining in the world's largest ceilidh dance.
"The Night Afore International"
Before the night of Hogmanay itself people can enjoy a party atmosphere every night around the city. Winter Wonderland, with its wheel, ice-rink and fairground rides continues until 4 January. Take part in the Torchlight procession on 29 December, which is a magical parade in aid of charity, when hundreds of people carrying flaming torches walk down the High Street from St. Giles Cathedral and proceed to the top of Calton Hill, Here, amidst music and fireworks, a giant bonfire will symbolise the burning of a Viking Longboat.
To give a truly international flavour to the New Year celebrations there's a series of Jazz concerts featuring New York musicians, Mark Soskin and Steve Slagle, as well as a showcase of leading bands playing hip hop, soul, cool, funky jazz.
On the night before Hogmanay, 30 December, a fabulous free outdoor party will take place on George Street from 8 - 11pm. The Night Afore International will feature a Bollywood meets Holyrood spectacular where the cultures of India and Scotland are celebrated with music, dancing, street theatre, eating and drinking. Music on the street will include Sister India, the Bollywood Brass band, drumming from the Tartan Dhollies and dance fro the Diva Entertainments. Turning to more Celtic sounds there'll be a marching band of Pipes and Drums and you can dance to the Portobello Ceilidh band. Every year couples gather to form the longest Strip the Willow dance team in the world and again the record will try to be beaten. So bring your dancing shoes and register to join the ceilidh. Drinks will be available in the Raj bar at the Assembly Rooms and fine hot spicy Indian food provided by Restaurant Suruchi.
On Hogmanay itself Edinburgh goes wild with parties, parties, parties, such as The New Year Revels, Disco Inferno, Vegas! And the Big Splash taking place around the city - all popular ticketed events, which sell out fast. The concert in Princes Street Gardens stars top band, Erasure together with The Coral. Tickets for the gardens concert go like hot cakes but you can always try.
The Royal Bank of Scotland Street Party on Hogmanay is a free but ticketed event. Live music stages are erected along Princes Street, which will feature a range of bands from disco to ceilidh. And at midnight the fabulous fireworks are set off from seven hills around Edinburgh including Castle rock so that wherever you are on Hogmanay you are sure to see the sky sparkling above you. If you join the First Foot Club you'll receive a Street Party pass as well as discounts for shopping and city attractions
The theme this year is JOIN HANDS referring to the famous song by Robert Burns, Auld Lang Syne. It's traditionally sung at New Year parties, with people crossing their arms and holding hands in a circle. This year after the fireworks at midnight on Hogmanay, the 100,000 revellers attending the Royal Bank of Scotland Street party on Princes Street will be encouraged to join hands and sing Auld Lang Syne in a giant choral concert. The words of Auld Lang Syne are printed in the Hogmanay brochure to encourage people to sing along together. The event will be televised internationally to celebrate 1st January 2004 across the world from this famous Hogmanay party in Scotland.
New Year's Day
After all the merry making on the first day of 2004 it's time for fresh air and exercise to blow the cobwebs away and clear the head. Holyrood Park beside the Palace there will be a programme of fun activities and sports - the Bicycle triathlon, Husky dog racing, skateboarding, 5 a side football, salsa dancing, aerobics, massage and orienteering.
A popular event is the One O'clock Run, when hundreds of people gather at the Castle in the late morning ready to set off on a jog down the Royal Mile to the Palace at Holyrood Park.
The Loony Dook
A legendary event on New Year's Day is the "Loony Dook which takes the form of a chilly dip in the Firth of Forth. Every year, a large crowd of brave (or mad) people splash into the icy waters from the beach, down the Boathouse Steps at South Queensferry, beside the Forth Rail Bridge. Wet suits are not allowed but fancy dress is encouraged!
You don't have to jump in, but you can always go along and watch the spectacle beginning with a parade along the promenade. Many of the pubs, restaurants and cafes will be open on New Year's Day including the Boat House restaurant above the Loony Dook beach. You could sit here enjoying a delicious brunch either inside or on the outdoor terrace and watch the bathers.
To close the New Year carnival, there will be a dramatic and colourful street theatre performance at Hunter Square off the Royal Mile at 5pm on 1st January. A procession of characters and animals, including a life sized elephant, dancers and musicians will celebrate Indian and Asian culture.
So Scotland and Edinburgh welcomes you to a fabulous winter festival over Christmas and New Year. Come, join hands and expect a very, merry time.
For more information on Edinburgh and it's festive events, see:
- Edinburgh Links from Rampant Scotland
- Edinburgh Photo Library
- Edinburgh and Lothians Tourist Board
- Edinburgh's Hogmanay
- Edinburgh's Capital Christmas
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