Scotland is the home of New Year!
While people celebrate the arrival of the new year all over the world, many of the most beloved traditions, such as the singing of Auld Lang Syne, originated in Scotland. To this day Edinburgh's Hogmanay continues this great Scottish tradition in distinctive style, hosting the world's favourite New Year celebration. Here are 5 truly unique events to herald in Lucky '13!
1. Torchlight Procession (30 December).
You'll think you've stumbled upon some ancient pagan ritual. Imagine 20,000 people brandishing flaming torches and processing slowly through the city centre before climbing Calton Hill for a firework display and son et lumière. The atmosphere is heightened by the sound of massed pipes and drums and the presence of Vikings from Shetland's Up Helly Aa fire festival. In truth, there's nothing pagan about it, but it's certainly the kind of one-off event you won't find anywhere else. You can buy torches in advance or on the night and become part of a fiery sea that cascades down from the Old Town and along Princes Street. It's a simple idea, but the effect is stunning and it establishes the mood of communal good will that extends throughout Edinburgh's Hogmanay.
2. Candlelit Concert (31 December).
Also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, St Giles' Cathedral dominates the central part of the High Street. Primarily gothic in style, it has fragments dating as far back as the 12th century. Having served as a cathedral since the 17th century, it is steeped in history and tradition, making it an especially atmospheric venue for the annual Candlelit Concert. The highly popular event – a sell-out last year – showcases St Giles' Cathedral Choir and the St Giles' Camerata as well as several brilliant young soloists. They'll be singing some of the most awe-inspiring music of Handel and Mozart, in part to the accompaniment of the formidable St Giles' organ.
3. The Keilidh (31 December).
The ceilidh is a great Scottish folk tradition that persists to this day, a chance for a whole community to join in with a night of music, song and dance. Here at Edinburgh's Hogmanay, the tradition has been reinvented as the Keilidh and it's the largest outdoor event of its kind in the UK. Taking place on the Mound Precinct from 9pm and extending beyond the midnight bells, it is an evening of non-stop hooley fun on a purpose-built outdoor dance floor. 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.
4. The Loony Dook (1 January).
For the past 25 years, the more foolhardy among us 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. Taking place ten miles outside Edinburgh 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, much to the delight of the many onlookers. They round off their chilly morning exercise with a Dookers Parade at 11am before hitting South Queensferry's pubs, cafes and restaurants.
5. Your Lucky Day (1 January).
As the world heralds in 2013, Edinburgh's Hogmanay is taking the principle of 'Lucky for Some' to a new level, as enthusiasts can spend a whole day in Edinburgh, with their itinerary and experiences- from a church hall ceilidh to a Hogmanay hoedown- determined by the role of the dice. Join in the incredible street theatre finale at 13 Buccleuch Place at 17.30 to explore the origins of the universe.
Edinburgh's Hogmanay, 30 December 2012–1 January 2013.