Scotland is a beautiful country with a rich history. It’s precisely the reason why I’ve written several blogs on Scotland’s history. Considering that winter is almost here and that we’ll all be looking for fun events to partake in, I wanted to highlight one of the country’s most revered traditions: Hogmanay.
What exactly is Hogmanay?
In short, Hogmanay is the Scottish term for what the rest of the world calls “New Year’s Eve.” It is a night (sometimes longer) full of fun, food and friends. While America may have a fantastic tradition in the Times Square Ball drop, Scotland’s Hogmanay may have it beat.
What happens during Hogmanay?
If you’re experiencing Hogmanay in Edinburgh, it isn’t a holiday, it’s an event; a three-day event. It all starts on the 30th of December with a torchlight procession. I’ve mentioned before in another blog how popular fire festivals are in Scotland during the winter months, and there is certainly no exception during Hogmanay. The procession features thousands of torch-bearers walking through Edinburgh, creating a beautiful flowing, river of fire. Then, on the 31st of December, the Hogmanay Street Party takes place. Located near the historic Edinburgh Castle, this particular street party includes one of the world’s greatest concerts: the Concert in the Gardens. The event’s live music, outdoor bars, and other forms of entertainment all make for one tremendous night that you won’t soon forget. And the final centerpiece of the night is the Hogmanay Midnight Fireworks display during which the city is illuminated by a bevy of multi-colored fireworks. Afterwards, you can participate in the world’s largest rendition of the Auld Lang Syne, a poem written by Scottish poet Robert Burns.
Finally, on the first of January, make sure to participate in the final day of festivities: the Loony Dook. It’s an annual event where locals and visitors alike march in the Dookers Parade before jumping into the freezing River Forth waters. If the parading, singing and eating don’t wake you up, the frigid waters certainly will.
There are several other events that take place during Hogmanay, such as the Inverness’ Red Hot Highland Fling, the Drams in Dufftown or any of the other fire festivals going on throughout the country. Hogmanay is an experience. Period. You can read about it all day long, but you won’t truly understand it until you’ve lived through it. Do yourself a favor: take a trip to Scotland and enjoy this annual celebration.