Scots know how to party, so it’s no surprise their New Year’s Eve celebrations are some of the biggest and best in the world. There’s nothing quite like Edinburgh’s Hogmanay – festivities span over three days and attract upwards of 100,000 people from every corner of the globe. There’s a massive street party, live music, burly Vikings, and a grand firework display above Edinburgh castle. If you’re thinking of celebrating New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh, read on for some tips to help make the most of your Hogmanay experience.
Festivities kick-off on the 30th
Be sure to arrive in time to catch the official opening event of the city’s Hogmanay celebrations: the Torchlight Procession. This unique event is incredible to watch – Shetland Vikings and six pipe bands lead thousands of torchbearers through the city centre, ending with a huge display of fireworks at the top of Calton Hill. You can purchase a torch and take part, or spectate from The Mound, Princes Street, or Calton Hill.
The Street Party
Despite the chilly temperatures, the atmosphere is electric at this massive street party, and you’re guaranteed to have a memorable time ringing in the New Year alongside thousands of fellow revellers. There’s plenty to see and do, from stages with live music and DJ’s to outdoor bars and street food stalls, a Ceilidh (traditional Scottish dancing), and a concert in Princes Street Gardens. Stages and events are spread between Old Town and New Town, so grab a programme and be sure to make a rough plan of what you’d like to see before you arrive.
At midnight, a spectacular firework display takes place above Edinburgh Castle, and everyone breaks out into a mass chorus of ‘Auld Lang Syne’. The fireworks can be seen from vantage points across the city, but head to Princes Street, Castle Street, or Frederick Street (well before midnight) for a front row seat to the display.
Where to head after Midnight
After the firework finale, people tend to make a beeline toward the nearest pub. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to pubs in Edinburgh, but bars fill up really quickly at midnight. There’s a cluster of traditional pubs in The Grassmarket and Cowgate, bustling student-style bars near Potterrow, and a number of trendy nightclubs on George Street. If you’re fed up with the crowds in Old Town and New Town by this point, head toward the gentrified neighbourhood of Leith for a bit of respite. (Just remember that some establishments – namely nightclubs – will be hosting New Year’s Eve events with pricey entry fees, or they may require an advanced ticket purchase.)
Free bus and tram services will be available from various points throughout the city centre starting at midnight, running until 4:10 am (buses) and 5:00 am (trams). Taxis are also widely available, along with Uber.
Where to stay
Accommodations are in high demand during Hogmanay and it’s recommended that you book a place well in advance. If you’re looking for places to stay for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, then Expedia’s Edinburgh FestivalFindr could be useful. During the New Year period, Edinburgh can be very busy, meaning that finding a place to stay can be expensive, meaning that a bit of creativity is needed when it comes to choosing somewhere to stay. The FestivalFindr can help you discover alternative places to stay such as student halls, hostels and b&b’s, all of which are close enough to the city centre to allow you to stumble to bed, avoiding the taxi fare!
New Year’s Day Events
On January 1st, take part in The Loony Dook to remedy your hangover. This annual event sees participates parading down The Royal Mile in costumes and then diving into the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth to raise money for charities across the UK. If swimming in ice cold water doesn’t sound appealing, you can head down to South Queensferry and watch the spectacle unfold.
For something a little more low-key, check out Scot:Lands, a pop-up festival which showcases local artists and musicians at various venues across Old Town. Discover everything from dance to film, spoken word, live music, and more.
A Few Survival Tips
- Tickets to the Street Party cost £25 and can be purchased here.
- You can bring your own alcohol, as long as it’s in a plastic container.
- Wear plenty of layers, and bring waterproof clothing.
- There’s no entry to the Street Party after 11pm.
- Give yourself enough time – trying to navigate the mass crowds will take more time than you think.
- The concert in Princes Street Gardens and the Old Town Ceilidh are not included in the regular Street Party admission.
- There’s no rush to get to the Street Party early – you can enter anytime before 11 pm and move freely throughout the night. Just be sure to decide where you’d like to view the fireworks and leave ample time to get there.
Have you celebrated New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh?
I would love to visit Edinburgh during Christmas and stay till New Year’s Eve. Awesome to see that street parties are so much fun!
The street party is a blast! I’d definitely recommend visiting Edinburgh for NYE 🙂
This all sounds so fun!
It is such a fun place to spend NYE!
I’m going to the street party this year! I can’t get any extra time off work so I found this party train thing that takes you up for the night and brings you back in the morning. It’s organised by Stoke Travel in case anyone is in the same boat and wants to come
Great guide, Audrey! Definitely has me excited to spend my first European NYE in Edinburgh.
Hamish, just wondering how did you find the Stoke Travel train to Hogmanay? I was looking into doing it this year as I’m short on time as well!
This year I will go with Stoke Travel for the best Hogmanay experience!
There’s no need for accom Stoke have a 24 hr train so no getting work off!