At New Year’s, Scotland Goes Hog Wild For Hogmanay

December 29, 2009 at 10:16 am | Posted in festivals/celebrations, United Kingdom | Leave a comment
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by José Balido

Auld acquaintance, indeed — when it comes to public NYE bashes, there’s pretty much no acquaintance aulder than that of the Scots, and it all reaches its biggest and bashiest in Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh. Here the partying starts on December 29 with a carnival, torchlight procession from Royal Mile to Carlton Hill, fireworks, and the burning of a repro Viking ship by lots of drunks in blond wigs (some of Hogmanay’s traditions go back to the Vikings); on New Year’s Eve up more than 100,000 revelers throng the city center for a street party, concerts, bonfires, and at midnight another burst of fireworks and the famous mass rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Other Scottish cities and towns have their own whimsical, sometimes bizarre twists: in South Queensferry, part of Greater Edinburgh, hundreds of people participate in the “Loony Dook,” rushing into the cold North Atlantic waters on January 1; in Stonehaven, near Aberdeen, NYE’s highlight is a parade with a few dozen guys swinging fireballs in wire mesh; in the town of Burghhead up on the north coast, it’s a burning barrel (though not till Jan. 11, the original date of Hogmanay). But no matter where in Scotland it’s celebrated, it goes without saying that many, many, many “cups of kindness yet” are involved. Happy 2010, everybody! More info:,


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