Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has been on my bucket list for some time now. It’s the ultimate New Years celebration, and the perfect way to explore Scotland and welcome in the new year.
It’s one of the oldest recorded celebrations in history still going today, and you will be sure to gain a warm Scottish welcome in Scotland’s capital.
Getting to Edinburgh, Scotland for Hogmanay
Travelling from London I took the overnight train called the Caledonian sleeper.
You can arrive bright and early in the city of Edinburgh, and the sleeper seats are rather affordable for the overnight journey time.
Travelling by overnight train to Scotland is a wonderful experience, as your adventure starts the moment you leave the train platform in London.
Wake up with jaw-dropping views of the Highlands from your train seat and save on a hotel stay that night.
You can also opt for a sleeper compartment with breakfast service if you struggle to sleep in a sleeper seat and want to get a good night’s sleep in a bed.
On my return journey I took a short flight with British Airways to London Heathrow. This way you can take the rail one way and fly back on the return to break up your journey.
I’d highly recommend the Caledonian sleeper at least one way, as its a great way to try out one of the greatest British railway experiences.
Be sure to dine on board and try out the popular Scottish dish of haggis, neets and tatties to start your Scottish adventure with a full belly.
The train is being refurbished in 2018, so expect some stylish updates.
What’s the meaning of Hogmanay
Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year, marking the celebration of the new year on new years eve.
The city of Edinburgh hosts one of the biggest festive programs to celebrate Hogmanay in the whole of Scotland.
There really are so many options for you to choose from. It’s a wonderful introduction to Scottish culture and the celebration of Hogmanay.
I’ll go into more detail about the program that’s on offer for Hogmanay 2018:
Kick off Hogmanay with the torchlight procession
Arrive in Edinburgh on the day before Hogmanay to take part and make the most out of the torchlight procession.
Join thousands of torch bearers as they line the old cobbled streets of Edinburgh to walk along in a procession that kick starts the Hogmanay celebrations.
It’s a wonderful feeling to be united amongst other torch bearers who are taking part in the night time celebration.
Being surrounded by so many torch lights that guide the way for a walk around the planned out route makes you feel like a part of Scottish history.
The torchlight procession is held on the 30th of December and starts at 7pm. It’s best to arrive a bit before time to register and collect your torch.
Hogmanay 2019 day program
Here are the different tickets you can purchase for the Hogmanay 2019 celebration.
I’ll explain these options in some more depth so you can decide which one is best for you on the night.
It’s best to book your tickets for these events in advance to secure your place on the night.
Hogmanay Street Party
The most popular ticket on the night is the Hogmanay Street Party, and this area has the biggest capacity and the best atmosphere too. The party is limited to 5,000 tickets.
The street party area first opens at 19:00pm so the party can begin. This year you could walk around the street party area and watch local street performers who line the streets and put on a show.
In other sections you can find DJs getting the party started before the countdown.
This is a very busy, all-standing, outdoor festival event so please dress for the weather and be sure to wrap up warm and prepare for rain just in case.
Be sure to get in early if you want to grab a good spot to enjoy either the music stages or firework show over the castle during the final countdown.
Concert in the gardens / Bairns Afore
Concert in the Gardens / Bairns Afore is where you can find the best entertainment on stage. Hogmanay attracts some big acts on the night, and the 2019 line up is yet to be announced.
2018 was the Rag and Bone man who performed and counted in the New Year, and ended by singing the popular Scottish song of Auld Lang Syne – a moment I will never forget and will cherish for a lifetime.
Stay tuned for who will be headlining the stage in 2019.
Ceiliedh under the castle
The ultimate Scottish way to celebrate Hogmanay is to go for the Ceiliedh under the castle.
Here you will find locals dancing Scottish style wearing traditional attire and partying the night way.
Join local bands playing Scottish music and directing group Scottish dances called Ceiliedh.
Ceiliedh under the castle also offers the best location in Edinburgh to watch the fireworks from, and is a great location to welcome in the new year in the more traditional setting.
Loony Dook – Go for a morning dip to start your new year
Want to start the new year off in style? Why not take a freezing cold dip and do the Loony Dook.
Held on the 1st of January at 10.30am, join other crazy souls as they plunge into the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry (just north of Edinburgh, Scotland), often in fancy themed dress.
The name ” Loony Dook” is a combination of “Loony” (short for “lunatic”) and “Dook”, a Scots term for taking a dip. What a great way to spend your first day welcoming in the new year!
Final tips and advice for Edinburgh, Hogmanay
First tip would be to ensure that you book everything in advance as things sell out rather quickly.
The entire world is pretty much heading to Scotland each New Year, so expect large numbers and crowds.
For the Torchlight procession, make sure to avoid wearing easily flammable items of clothing or items you wish to not damage such as down jackets as the torches let off ash sparks now and then and can burn holes.
Remember that ATM machines may run out on the day so stock up cash in advance.
Time your bathroom breaks well so you don’t miss the big countdown.
Glass is not allowed in the main areas, so stick with plastic drink bottles.
Remember that New Years day and some of the adjoining days in Scotland are a public holiday and many shops and services will be closed, so plan accordingly.
Trains do not run on New years eve evening and day so look at the buses put in place instead, especially those running a service for Hogmanay.
Book these tickets in advance to ensure you get a seat.
I hope you found this blog post helpful and gave you some great tips for your next trip to Scotland. If you’re looking at exploring the Scottish Highlands during Hogmanay, be sure to check out the possible day trips you can take from Edinburgh.