Edinburgh's Hogmanay: Alive and Kicking
Nowhere on the planet does Hogmanay like Scotland – and nowhere in Scotland does Hogmanay like Edinburgh. As one year turns into the next, Scotland's capital city turns into party central. Revellers from all over the world gravitate here for that extra dose of New Year craziness. If you want to see in 2013 in the wildest way, then Edinburgh's Hogmanay is for you.
Grabbing the headlines is what promises to be the most euphoric gig of the year: the Concert in the Gardens featuring Simple Minds. Emerging in Glasgow in the late-1970s, Jim Kerr's band have sold over 60 million records thanks to hits such as Don't You (Forget About Me), Alive and Kicking and Belfast Child. The frontman says he is "chuffed" to be bringing in 2013 in Edinburgh. "Scotland is one of the great places to spend the New Year," says Kerr. "Edinburgh in turn is reportedly the best place in the country to be, particularly as the clock strikes midnight. Simple Minds will be giving all to make sure that the celebrations in Edinburgh this year will live on, very long, in the memories of all who come."
On the same stage that evening, there'll be Dundee's the View, adding to the party atmosphere with their stomping pop-rock, as well as Edinburgh's Bwani Junction, keeping everyone moving with their infectious Afro-Caribbean rhythms.
That's not the end of the dance action, however. The city centre is being transformed into the world's biggest dance floor as live DJs and VJs mix six decades of classic pop hits on eight giant screens. Meanwhile, you'll have your pick of live-music stages: on the Scottish Stage, there's a cracking line-up of Admiral Fallow, Lau and Shooglenifty (just try standing still to that lot); and on the Waverley Stage, there are tops sounds from the Maccabees, Reverend and the Makers and the OK Social Club.
For a more traditional – and just as energetic – alternative, you could get on your dancing shoes for the Keilidh, an evening of non-stop hooley fun on a purpose-built outdoor dance floor on the Mound Precinct. Don't worry if you're not up to speed with your Gay Gordons and your Strip the Willows: the ceilidh caller will take you through the jigs and reels move by move. The whole event is powered along by the hip-swinging sounds of Hugh MacDiarmid's Haircut, Ceilidhdonia and the Brechin City Rollers.
Elsewhere in town, there are several Hogmanay parties and club nights, including the extravagant spectacular of Vegas! with a Grand Hogmanay Ball taking over the Voodoo Rooms, a Hogmanay Party featuring DJs and theatrical performances at Summerhall, and An Extraordinary Hogmanay at the Tron Kirk where you'll catch Heavy Gossip and Ultragroove.
For those who’ve got the stamina, the thrills and spills continue on New Year's Day. Out at South Queensferry, in the shadow of the Forth Rail Bridge, the Loony Dook is a charity event in which ordinary people take an unseasonable swim, many of them in fancy dress. For the past 25 years, the more foolhardy revellers have realised the best way to shake off that Hogmanay hang-over is by taking a dip in the icy waters of the Firth of Forth. They round off their chilly morning exercise with a Dookers Parade at 11am before hitting South Queensferry's pubs, cafes and restaurants.
After that, you can head back into town where the Filmhouse is showing The Wicker Man (6.15pm), one of the great Scottish cult movies. Part of a special Hogmanay series of films paying homage to Scotland, it is a creepy period classic.
After that, you're allowed to have a lie down.
Edinburgh's Hogmanay, 30 December–1 January.