The Best New Year's - Hogmanay Celebrations in Scotland

Where to Find Hogmanay -The Best Scotland New Year's Eve Parties

Swimmers Brave The Loony Dook New Years Day Swim
A New Year's Day swim in the Firth of Forth, part of Edinburgh's traditional Hogmanay - though the selfies are new. Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

Hogmanay is New Year's Eve and more in Scotland. It is Scotland's biggest winter holiday - far bigger than Christmas in terms of public celebrations and festivities that often go on for four days or more!

Start With Edinburgh Hogmanay - The Real Highland Fling

Edinburgh's New Year's celebration, Hogmanay, is legendary. This three to four-day long New Year's party kicks off with a dramatic torchlight procession and fire festival and continues with spectacle and celebration for everyone in the family - including, some years, even the family dog!

(Dogmanay)

In 2017, celebrations begin on December 30 and continue until January 1 2018. They include:

  • The Torchlight Procession - Choose your starting point and buy a ticket online to join the river of fire that kicks off Hogmanay on December 30 at 7 p.m.. Thousands of people, including whole families carry flaming, wax based torches in a procession that winds its way through the city. In previous years, as many as 50,000 people took part. And, despite all that fire, the event is safe and child friendly.
  • The Ceilidh under the Castle - A giant, open air Edinburgh New Year's Eve celebration of traditional Scottish music and dance. The entertainment is different every year, and tickets (in 2017), cost about £52. The settling is a great place from which to watch the fireworks at midnight.
  • The Street Party - A huge pop concert on three stages around the city center. Many consider the Edinburgh Street Party the biggest and best outdoor party in the world  with live music, DJs, street entertainment and, of course, the amazing fireworks display from Edinburgh Castle. Tickets at the website in 2017 cost £26.
  • Concert in the Gardens -  A major ticketed event in a specially constructed enclosure in Princes Street Gardens. In 2017/18 the Rag 'n Bone man was set to headline with tickets costing £60.
  • Candlelit Concert - Something for the grown-ups at St. Giles Cathedral. In 2017 Bach and Handel were scheduled, with tickets costing £19.50 
  • The Loony Dook - Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., on January 1, New Year;s Day, anyone daft enough to dress up in a funny costume and jump into the icy waters of the Firth of Fourth can have a splash off the Moorings, in South Queensferry, near the famous Forth Bridge. It's no longer free but ticket proceeds usually go to a local charity. 
  • Bairns Afore - In 2017, a special New Year;s Eve programs have been added for kids to bring even the youngest family members into the festivities. From 5 p.m., the west end of Princes Street Gardens, below the Castle is turned over to family entertainment and spectacular early fireworks "all afore bedtime", Tickets from £10 to £21. And even younger children can celebrate midnight at midday with a special edition of Edinburgh Festival's popular Baby Loves Disco Hogmanay, with two hours of Hogmanay "dayclubbing" for babies and toddlers from 1 p,m.
  • Fireworks, Fireworks and more Fireworks - Some of the most spectacular fireworks displays in Britain - and lots of them - are always part of the fiery spectacles of Edinburgh Hogmanay.

 Here's Where Else to Find Scotland's Best Hogmanay Parties:

  • Glasgow Hogmanay Who would credit it, that a town with such a hard man reputation as Glasgow would roll up the pavements at 10p.m. for Hogmanay? But that's the hard truth for Hogmanay in  Glasgow. There are no big public celebrations planned. But the pubs, clubs and music venues will be lively if you want to make your own fun.
  • Oban Hogmanay Scotland's West Highland's seaside resort holds public events every other year and New Year's 2017/2018 is the next big one. Expect include concerts, fireworks and other celebrations. And the atmosphere in the town is very lively with most pubs and bars having extended licences to 3 a.m. or later. Many operate a "lock-in" with no one admitted after midnight. The ferries and boats in the harbor add to the din and there's plenty of well lubricated Scottish jollity in the streets. Don't expect an early night.
  • Stirling Hogmanay In 2017/2018, Stirling plans its biggest ever midnight fireworks display above the walls of Stirling Castle(grounds open from 10:45 p.m. to 12:15 a.m.) and an earlier show at 9 p.m for families (grounds from 7:45 to 9 p.m.).  Drummers and pipers will keep everyone entertained while waiting for the fireworks and there will be hot food and drinks and a bar on offer. These are ticketed events with tickets available on the Stirling Winter Festival website. 
  • Biggar Bonfire An enormous bonfire in the center of this small town starts about 9:30p.m. on New Year's Eve. This bonfire is so big that they actually start building up the pile of fuel for Hogmanay ignition on December 1. As of December 7, they'd already started building the 2017 bonfire and you can watch their progress online on the website. If you have a streak of pyromania in you, you'll love it.
  • Stonehaven Fireball Festival 60 marchers whirl 16 pound balls of fire around their heads in a dramatic and terrifying spectacle on New Year's Eve. At one time, only men born in the borough of Stonehaven could take part. Today, people who have lived there for a number of years and have served as parade marshals can apply to take part. And quite a few women can whirl the huge and heavy ball of flame around their heads.
  • Burghead Hogmanay - The Burning of the Clavie Celebrated on 11 January - or The Old New Year - this is a ritual fire ceremony that involves burning barrels and spectacles to chill the heart of anyone who saw the cult horror film The Wicker Man.
  • Comrie Flambeau Procession A torchlight procession that can involve thousands of people, many in costumes. The Comrie Flambeau are not any sort of torch. They are usually at least 10 feet tall - each carried by one  person. They are made from saplings wrapped in hessian - or hopsacking fabric - soaked in tar. No one really knows how far back this event goes but some people claim it is of pagan origin. 
  • Dufftown  If you're doing a bit of whisky touring and find yourself in the Speyside whisky region on New Year's Eve, head for the Dufftown, the capital of Speyside, to see in the new year. There, just before the stroke of midnight, the local distillery and shortbread manufacturer give out free drams and shortbread to wet the baby's head - the baby being the new year, of course.