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Articles about Edinburgh and Scotland by David Wheater

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Articles about Edinburgh and Scotland by David Wheater, founder of Tours of Edinburgh.

Hogmanay Events and Parties in Edinburgh, Scotland

Tours of Edinburgh Edinburgh Castle, St Andrew's Cross (Saltire) and Fireworks, Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh, Scotland.jpg

Hogmanay Events and Parties in Edinburgh 2018
by David Wheater of Tours of Edinburgh

While New Year is celebrated all over the world, no country does it better and with more style than Scotland.

Hogmanay in Scotland is all about spending valuable time with family and friends, and extending the hand of friendship to people from all around the world. Itʼs a time to clear away the past, start afresh and look forward to a new year filled with new opportunities.

Itʼs thought that the celebration of Hogmanay was brought to Scotland by the Vikings to celebrate the passing of the winter solstice. Itʼs often forgotten that Hogmanay was the only winter festival celebrated in Scotland, as Christmas was effectively banned for hundreds of years as a result of the Protestant Reformation.

Today, Hogmanay is celebrated throughout Scotland, with Edinburgh renowned for its huge street party and fireworks display over the Castle and Princes Street Gardens. There are, however, plenty of other celebrations worth visiting around Scotland. Stonehaven near Aberdeen, for example, holds its own Fireball Ceremony, which is quite spectacular and well worth seeing.

Weʼve listed below some of the annual Hogmanay events happening in Edinburgh every year. Please, however, check with the event organiser or venue before booking accommodation or making any plans. Events can be cancelled at short notice. Donʼt forget that the 1st and 2nd January are public holidays in Scotland and transport options may be limited.

Edinburgh Torchlight Procession - 2018

  • 30th December 2017 - 7pm  (held annually)
  • Normally a free unticketed event (i.e. free to watch)
  • In 2017/18 - £13 to participate with a torch in the procession.
  • Book a torch at
  • Edinburgh Hogmanay box office: t. (0131) 510 0395

This is the opening event of Edinburghʼs Hogmanay, which is a wonderful torchlight procession of thousands of torch bearers marching down the Royal Mile to Holyrood Park. You can either purchase a torch and walk in the procession, or watch the procession and fireworks finale in Holyrood Park. Last year the event attracted over 30,000 people!

For many years, the procession has been led by Shetlandʼs Up Helly Aa Vikings with massed pipes and drums. The 'River of Fire' is normally free to watch, but if you wish to buy your own torch and take part there is a small charge. The procession concludes with a wonderful fireworks display in Holyrood Park. Money raised from the sale of torches goes to charity. Tickets from

Firework Display Finale (Holyrood Park) - 2018

  • 30th December 2017  (held annually)
  • Normally a free event – no ticket required
  • For more info visit
  • Edinburgh Hogmanay box office: t. (0131) 510 0395

This is the finale to the Torchlight Procession mentioned above and marks the beginning of the Edinburgh Hogmanay festival. This fantastic fireworks show, in Holyrood Park, is free to watch and an absolute ʻmust seeʼ if youʼre in Edinburgh at New Year.  

Concert in the Gardens (W Princes Street Gardens) - 2018

  • 31st December 2017. Opens at 8pm for a 9pm start  (held annually)
  • Book tickets at
  • Edinburgh Hogmanay box office: t. (0131) 510 0395
  • No under 12's permitted

Normally a complete sell out every year so book fast! This is a wonderful music and midnight fireworks spectacular with the back-drop of Edinburgh Castle. The headline act on the main stage this year is the amazing Rag 'n' Bone Man. Being within the Gardens themselves gives you a bit more space to enjoy the night. This is an outdoor event so wrap up in warm clothes and bring a rug or something warm to sit on. Bars and food outlets are plentiful.  

Edinburghʼs Hogmanay Street Party (Princes Street) - 2018

  • 31st December 2017 - 7pm to 1 am  (held annually)
  • In 2017/18 - £26 per ticket. No children under 12 are allowed. No entry after 10.30pm!
  • Book tickets at
  • Edinburgh Hogmanay Box office: t. (0131) 510 0395 (tickets normally available from around September)

This world-famous Hogmanay Street Party is held on Princes Street with the wonderful backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. This year's street party will be hosted by Sanjeev Kohli of Still Game fame. Thereʼs fantastic live music and entertainment throughout the night, normally over three or four stages (Castle Street, East End and Waverley), with the midnight finale being the most incredible firework display illuminating the Castle. This years acts include the Human League, Niteworks, the Treacherous Orchestra and Huey Morgan amongst others. This is one of those events you must experience at least once in your lifetime – go and enjoy!

Bairns Afore - Hogmanay Party 2018 (West Princes Street Gardens)

  • 31st December 2017, 5pm (1 hour)
  • Adults £13 / Children £10. Children under 2 free. 
  • Book tickets at
  • Edinburgh Hogmanay Box Office: t. (0131) 510 0395

This is a brand new event for 2018, which is a great opportunity for families with children to enjoy a party before the formal street party begins later in the evening. There'll be an hour of family entertainment on the main stage, plus a very special fireworks display over Edinburgh Castle just for the kids. There's even time for you to take the kids back home, arrange a babysitter and get back out for the main event later in the evening. Bairns Afore is a great idea for families and we hope it continues in the years ahead.

If you're looking for more Hogmanay family events in Edinburgh, please see the Baby Loves Hogmanay Disco and the Family Hogmanay Ceilidh at the end of this article.

The Loony Dook 2018 (South Queensferry near Edinburgh)

  • 1st January 2018, New Year's Day - 11am
  • Participant registration fee in 2018 of £11.00 (places are limited).
  • Free to watch
  • Book tickets at
  • Edinburgh Hogmanay Box office: t. (0131) 510 0395

The Loony Dook is the annual River Forth swim/splash, held at South Queensferry on the coast, just a 20-minute drive from Edinburgh. Thousands of 'loonies', all in colourful fancy dress, have taken a dip in the Forth over the last 30 years, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for worthwhile charities. If you arenʼt brave enough to take a 'dook' yourself, then why not show your support for the brave dookers when they parade along the High Street in South Queensferry before they take the plunge.

Ceilidh Under Edinburgh Castle - 2018

  • 31st December 2017, 8.30pm  (held annually)
  • In 2017/18 £52.50. Not recommended for very young children.
  • Book tickets at
  • Edinburgh Hogmanay Box office: t. (0131) 510 0395

If you want to see in the New Year in style then this is the event for you. Scottish ceilidh dancing is tremendous fun and you donʼt even have to know the dances, as Ceilidh dancers will show you all the steps, which youʼll pick up in no time. The event is located at St Cuthberts Church with the stunning backdrop of the castle. You have access to an exclusive food and drink area, and will get a great view of the fireworks over the castle at midnight. We really do think this is the pick of the Hogmanay events – tremendous fun is guaranteed!

Candlelit Concert at St Giles' Cathedral - 2018

  • 31st December 2017, 7.30pm  (held annually)
  • 2017/18 - £19.50. Not recommended for young children
  • Book tickets at
  • Edinburgh Hogmanay Box office: t. (0131) 510 0395

This is the wonderful annual candlelit concert at St Giles' Cathedral on the Royal Mile. This festive celebration takes place within one of Scotland's most beautiful cathedrals and is a must for all fans of classical music. This years concert in 2017/18 will feature J.S.Bach’s captivating Lutheran Mass in F BWV 233 and Austrian Rieger organ heard in Handel’s Organ Concerto Op 4 No 2 in B flat played by Peter Backhouse.

Edinburgh Corn Exchange Hogmanay Hoot - 2018

  • 31st December 2017  (held annually)
  • Over 18's only. VIP Party tickets available.
  • t. (0131) 477 3500

See in the New Year in the main Exchange with over 1,000 other partygoers. Last year, revellers enjoyed live music from the Scott Leslie Ceilidh band and DJ Scott. Thereʼs usually live pipes and drums and a cabaret performance from a local musician/singer. A supper of haggis, neeps and tatties is normally served. Included in your ticket: a three course served meal, reserved seating, sparkling wine, premium beer or soft drink on arrival, live entertainment, ceilidh band, cocktail & Karaoke Bar and a photobooth. Book early!

Baby Loves Hogmanay Disco - 2018

  • 31st December 2017, 1pm (2hours)  (annual event)
  • Spiegeltent, Festival Square, Lothian Road, Edinburgh
  • Tickets in 2017/18 £10. For ages 0-6 years.
  • Tickets and more info at:
  • Hogmanay Box Office: t. (0131) 510 0395

Hogmanay for the wee ones! This is a fantastic event for families with babies, toddlers and children up to six years of age. Held at the Festival Square Spiegeltent, there's real DJs mixing retro and current pop tunes at child friendly volumes for your little ones to boogie on down to. As well as a small family ceilidh dance, there'll also be "facepainting, dress-up, selfie booth with props, bubbles, balloons, dancefloor games and giveaways, chill-out play area and festive crafts plus a licensed bar for parents." Huge fun and kids love it.

Hogmanay Family Ceilidh - 2018

  • 31st December 2017, 2pm to 3.30pm
  • National Museum of Scotland, Grand Gallery
  • Free Admission

This is a fantastic, drop-in, family ceilidh run by the Museum of Scotland in their Grand Gallery. Last year's band was the Canongate Cadjers Ceilidh Band. Great family fun to see in the New Year and it's free!

Free Hogmanay Buses

Due to the large numbers of party people needing to get home, the local bus company, Lothian Transport, provides free night buses home from the city centre. For times and routes visit You may also find Transport for Edinburgh's transport app useful, which can be downloaded at

We hope you enjoy your Hogmanay in Edinburgh. As we say in Scotland, Lang may yer lum reek! (may you always have fuel for your fire).

An Important Note about Dates & Times of Events

All the above events may be changed or cancelled at short notice. Please do not make plans to travel to Edinburgh until you've confirmed these events are taking place. Book tickets early!

If you'd like to join me on a special walking tour of Edinburgh please Email or phone me directly on 07400 705 357.


David WheaterScottishComment