Hogmanay in Edinburgh – What to expect of one of the biggest New Year's Eve Events

Hogmanay in Edinburgh – What to expect of one of the biggest New Year's Eve Events

Wet and cold weather...

Is that what you first thought of? It was for sure what I've expected right away and I really wasn't looking forward to it, until now.

Now I can't wait until the year flies by and there is another Hogmanay event to go to.

It was my first time in Scotland ever and one of the reasons was the weather. At the moment I had free time and money to travel the world, I've decided to explore sunny destinations or real winter destinations. Scotland always had the picture of being rainy and cold. This wasn't really where I wanted to spend my money and holiday.

That changed now!

OK, during my 10 day stay in Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands, we were really lucky with the weather. I've seen the sun many times more than the 2 months before back in Germany. That's not normal and still I would recommend everyone to visit Scotland in winter and especially for Hogmanay.

I've been abroad for New Year's Eve many times and so far I was always quite disappointed. The best parties I've been to were in Germany. Everyone is going out, having their own fireworks on midnight and spending lots of money for it. Lots of people party the whole night till early in the morning.

But in Edinburgh they party 3 whole days and they even start before the 31st!

On the 30th there is a huuuuge torch light procession through the city and everybody can join! Upfront and the leading the parade are bagpipe players and drummers, followed by a horde of vikings.

I was just behind them upfront, which I would recommend, as you can listen to the music that way. Just a bit further to the back, you miss the Scottish atmosphere, the music. Without the bagpipes the torchlight procession could be anywhere in the world. Don't forget to look back in between and see hundreds of people with torches.

When you are upfront you will as well make it up on the hill where the procession ends with a nice little firework.

Many people will try to make it to the start of the procession, so I've just waited along the way, where it would pass and dropped in. Worked perfect!


The main event is of course the 31st, New Year's Eve!

The city will be crowded and several streets will be closed for traffic. By around 10 pm there will be a huge street party. There are 3 stages with live music incl. a Keiligh. A Keiligh is a dance event, where everybody can join and it's lots of fun! The band will play traditional songs and will explain the crowds how to dance to it, together.

At midnight there is a short, but wonderful firework shot from Edinburgh's castle, which lies above the city.

Then it's time to go into a club, where you can party on till 4am, which is OK, as you should get up quite early again.


The day after:

There are several different events to choose from. There is for example Dog-Manay, where dog owners are out in the park for a huge group stroll. Some extra fun is a dog sledge race.

But I've decided to see crazy Scots jumping in freezing water at Loony Dook. Why should you do that in the middle of the winter? It's probably the best way to get rid of your hangover and my guess that's how it all started.

By now it's a huge event and over 1000 people join directly, plus an additional and bigger crowd watching how people jump into the freezing water of the Forth river. Many do it even dressed up and it's fun to see the small parade marching and jumping to the entrance point.

There are several life guards in the water, making sure that all turns out fine and that nobody stays too long in the water or even gets too far out. But seriously, who would stay in freezing water longer than a few seconds, if minutes! I've heard that some stayed in it for up to 20 minutes, but that's quite unbelievable. I was always freezing just by standing at the side watching.

A few locals talked about the event a bit negative, as it got more and more commercial over the years. I didn't experienced it that way. There was only one company with a small food stall, handing out hot soup for the swimmers afterwards. Otherwise it seemed just to be an event, attracting more and more people over the years. Each attendee has to pay a fee, which is spend for charity.

Isn't that cool, that you can do something nice while getting rid of your hangover?

On the last day, there are different smaller events and I would recommend to visit the one or other, but also explore the city itself a bit. Edinburgh is worth a visit itself and you should not miss to see it, by partying too much.


I've done a tour to see how Edinburgh looked in the past with the "Real Mary King's Close" tour. This brings you into one of the typical alleys (Close). In one single alley, there were up to 30.000 people living.

Doing the tour, you have the impression to be under the ground, but you are not. There is just a roof and a building above you. The alley runs down the hillside and the first buildings were about 2, 3 storeys high. Down at the bottom they had 8 storeys. You've reached the upper level via steps on the outside. The alleys were really tiny and dark and for sure no fun to live in them. It's really interesting to see how people lived in the cities in the past.

When flying to Edinburgh for Hogmanay, you should as well plan in a couple more days to explore the Highlands! That's where I've found the Scotland I was looking for and more! The countryside is much more spectacular than I thought! We did a 3 day tour with Haggis Adventures, which is a tour operator usually used by younger travelers in the age around 18 – 25. If you are up for seeing a bit of Scotland and having a good time in a group, then their tours are the right ones!

Have you been to Scotland? How did you experience it?

If you haven't been to Scotland yet, is it on your to-do list?


Travel tip shared by Melvin


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