Hogmanay in Edinburgh

Hogmanay, New years Eve in Scotland.

Hogmanay in Edinburgh is now high up on many young peoles bucketlist. But what is all about?

Scotland has always had a reputation as the country that celebrates the New Year with partying and drinking. We even have an extra day off, January 2nd, to recover while the rest of the UK doesn’t.

Prior to 1996 if you came to Edinburgh to have a good time you may have been sadly disappointed.

Apart from a gathering of younger folk at the Tron. Which is on the Royal Mile to listen to the Tron Clock strike midnight. There wasn’t much happening in town. In fact, many bars closed early to allow staff to get home to see in the New year with their families.

That is the real tradition in Scotland being with family and friends.

First Footing

First footing your neighbours after the Bells (when the clock strikes midnight).

Taking items such a lump of coal, black bun, shortbread and whisky as gifts. It is bad luck to turn up empty handed.

People opening the door after midnight. Wanted the first person they saw to be a tall dark handsome guy. Which would mean good luck for the rest of the year.

This maybe all we have in 2020 with all planned Hogmanay celebrations on Princes St and the surrounding area cancelled due to COVID-19.  Even the parties in the home will be limited to a few people and first footing a few houses in the same street will be a big no no.

photo: Getty

photo: Getty

The word Hogmanay is Scottish for New Year’s Eve. The celebration most likely comes from a mix of the Gaelic Samhain and the Norse Yule time celebrations. The origins of the name are not pinned down. Some say from Gaelic others Norman French.

In 1996 the Council realised that people would be planning where they wanted to be for the end of the 20th  Century. The Tron was a confined space and wouldn’t lend itself to a grander celebration. So the decision was taken to move the party to Princes street.

Hogmany Street party

Photo: edinburghfestivalcity.com


The Hogmanay Street party

In the first year The Hogmanay Street party had around 300,000 revellers. Closing off the street, having a concert in the Gardens and fireworks from the castle. As with all new ideas it did have teething problems. With so many people there were crush points. Not everybody could see the band even with screens dotted along Princes St.

These were smoothed out over the years with extra stages erected in sides streets spreading the music. The numbers being allowed to attend being reduced to around 100-150,000.

If you do plan to attend wrap up warm. Get there in good time as a ticket doesn’t guarentee entry.  They can close the gates early (from 11pm onwards) on safety grounds. Have any drinks you are taking in plastic containers otherwise it will be taken off you.

While First footing and family parties are still the norm throughout Scotland. The focus of the Hogmanay Street party in Edinburgh has strengthened the Worlds belief that Scotland is the place to be for New Year. To see the fireworks set off from the fantastic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. Watch around 100,000 people from all over the world link arms to sing Rabbie Burn’s Auld Lang Syne who am I to disagree.

Eat walk Edinburgh will still be running Hogmanay food tours on 29th, 30th and 31st Dec at 11am 12 noon and 1pm. Which will not only cover our regular food tastings but throw in some Black Bun and shortbread. During the tour we will point out where the different events of the Hogmanay celebrations will be taking place. And hopefully be able to answer any questions you may have about this thoroughly Scottish celebration.