New Year Travel Inspiration – Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

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Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, 30 December 2012–1 January 2013.

from the director of DK Associates, Katilena Alpe.

In all the years I lived in London, I never made it north of the border to visit Edinburgh for a traditional New Year Celebration – The Famous Hogmanay – because always went south to visit friends and family in Athens. So Hogmanay always remained a dream. So as the New Year is approaching one of my New Year resolutions is to visit Edinburgh for this famous festival.

Festivities for this year’s Hogmanay start tomorrow. There is a site dedicated to Hogmanay – – for those interested to find out what is happening, where its taking place and generally Edinburgh is such a fun city that I always have when I visit and there is still time to visit. I like to both fly or take the train from London. Now as most of the time am based in Athens there is a direct flight to Edinburgh by easyjet – .

First stop is always the Edinburgh Castle to enjoy the views of the city and then a walk in the Royal Mile hunting for antiques or just browsing the variety of the shops. As I always work up an appetite walking up and down Princess Street , George Street, St.James Centre window shopping or dipping in out of the unique mix of high street, designer stores and boutiques its time to stop for either lunch or afternoon tea at the Balmoral Hotel. What a treat. Then its back out again for a walk, a browse or a shot of shopping at the first new street to be created in Edinburgh since the 18th century, Multrees Walk. Its where the luxury boutiques are situated including Armani, Louis Vuitton, Mulberry and Kurt Geiger. Next to Multrees Walk, and standing at the end of George Street in St Andrews Square, is the first Scottish store of Harvey Nichols, in a grand five-storey building with far reaching views over Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth.
Shopping in Edinburgh is a fantastic experience as you admire the architecture and amazing views of the Castle while you visit all the shops!!

So what is Hogmanay? According to history or Wikipedia, the roots of Hogmanay perhaps reach back to the celebration of the winter solstice among the Norse, as well as incorporating customs from the Gaelic celebration of Samhain. The Vikings celebrated Yule, which later contributed to the Twelve Days of Christmas, or the “Daft Days” as they were sometimes called in Scotland. The winter festival went underground with the Protestant Reformation and ensuing years (see Christmas in Scotland), but re-emerged near the end of the 17th century.
Each area of Scotland often developed its own particular Hogmanay ritual, however , no city does it better than Edinburgh with its famous party which starts on 30th December. While people celebrate the arrival of the New Year all over the world, the singing of Auld Lang Syne, originated in Scotland. Here are 5 truly unique events to herald in Lucky ’13!

Here are 5 truly unique events to herald in Lucky ’13!

1. The Torchlight Procession on 30th December – Imagine 20,000 people brandishing flaming torches and processing slowly through the city centre before climbing Calton Hill for a firework display and son et lumière

2. The Candlelit Concert on 31st December – Also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, St Giles’ Cathedral dominates the central part of the High Street. Primarily gothic in style, it has fragments dating as far back as the 12th century. Having served as a cathedral since the 17th century, it is steeped in history and tradition, making it an especially atmospheric venue for the annual Candlelit Concert. The highly popular event – a sell-out last year – showcases St Giles’ Cathedral Choir and the St Giles’ Camerata as well as several brilliant young soloists. They’ll be singing some of the most awe-inspiring music of Handel and Mozart, in part to the accompaniment of the formidable St Giles’ organ.

3. THE KEILIDH on31 December – The ceilidh is a great Scottish folk tradition that persists to this day, a chance for a whole community to join in with a night of music, song and dance. Here at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, the tradition has been reinvented as the Keilidh and it’s the largest outdoor event of its kind
in the UK. Taking place on the Mound Precinct from 9pm and extending beyond the midnight bells, it is an evening of non-stop hooley fun on a purpose-built outdoor dance floor. Don’t worry if you’re not up to speed with your Gay Gordons and your Strip the Willows: the ceilidh caller will take you through the jigs and reels move by move.

4. . THE LOONY DOOK on 1 January – For the past 25 years, the more foolhardy among us have realised the best way to shake off that Hogmanay hang-over is by taking a dip in the icy waters of the Firth of Forth. Taking place ten miles outside Edinburgh at South Queensferry in the shadow of the Forth Rail Bridge, the Loony Dook is a charity event in which ordinary people take an unseasonable swim, many of them in fancy dress, much to the delight of the many onlookers. They round off their chilly morning exercise with a Dookers Parade at 11am before hitting South Queensferry’s pubs, cafes and restaurants.

5. YOUR LUCKY DAY -1 January – As the world heralds in 2013, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is taking the principle of ‘Lucky for Some’ to a new level, as enthusiasts can spend a whole day in Edinburgh, with their itinerary and experiences- from a church hall ceilidh to a Hogmanay hoedown- determined by the role of the dice. Join in the incredible street theatre finale at 13 Buccleuch Place at 17.30 to explore the origins of the universe.

Headlining Concert in the Gardens are one of the most successful Scottish bands of all time – Simple Minds – who will be performing a set of their greatest hits in West Princes Street Gardens before they embark on a UK tour in the spring.
Simple Minds will be joined by The View, Scotland’s most rock and roll band and one of the UK’s hottest indie bands of 2012. The Dundee quartet released their fourth album this year, which was not only critically acclaimed but also stormed into the UK top ten. Concert in the Gardens will be opened by local Edinburgh band Bwani Junction.
The World Famous Street Party will be rocking to top five album act and Mercury Prize nominees The Maccabees who are headlining the Waverley Stage on Waverley Bridge. They will be joined by special guests Reverend and the Makers, the Sheffield band who make a welcome return to live performance after a three year hiatus, and the up and coming Scottish act, The OK Social Club.
So whether you enjoy a wee drum or a glass of bubbly celebrate the coming year with family, or friends or relatives or in Edinburgh

Cheers to All and Here To A Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year To All!!
Katilena Alpe

For travel information:
Easyjet –

For information on what to do or stay or eat while in Edinburgh visit or

Information sources:,,

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