Edinburgh's Hogmanay starts with largest ever Torchlight Procession

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay kicked off three days of fantastic events with the Torchlight Procession this evening, which was declared a major success.

Torches sold out before the event and in perfect weather conditions 40,000 people, including 10,000 torchbearers, were led by mass pipes and drums and 26 Vikings from Shetland’s Up Helly Aa Festival, from George IV Bridge to the top of Calton Hill for the spectacular Son et Lumière and fireworks display.

Unicef, the leading children’s organisation, is the Edinburgh’s Hogmanay official charity this year and partygoers will be encouraged to support the Unicef New Year’s Resolution to help children whose lives have been turned upside down by the conflict in Syria. A donation from the sale of torches will be made to the charity and tomorrow, at 10.00pm in the middle of the world famous Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party, a one minute blue firework display will lift from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle, which will also be lit up blue for the Unicef moment. Donations can be made to Unicef by texting MOUTH to 70444 to donate £3.

Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, Donald Wilson, said: “It is a special moment for me to lead such a visual and spectacular procession. You see the city at its best and you can’t help but feel proud of its streets and its people and realise how lucky you are to live in Scotland’s great capital city. The event really brings locals and visitors together in an extraordinary way.

“When so many children around the world are vulnerable and in great need, this year the event is proud to support Unicef.”

Pete Irvine, Director, Unique Events said: “The Torchlight Procession is just the start of a fabulous three days of events for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. It was great to see many thousands of residents and visitors to the city not only participating in the procession, but lining the streets of the city to enjoy the spectacle.”

The celebrations continue tomorrow with the world famous Street Party, Concert in the Gardens and The Old Town Ceilidh. Biffy Clyro will headline the sold out Concert in the Gardens, performing their only live date of 2015 and bringing in the bells for what promises to be another huge year for the band. Special guests Honeyblood will open the show, followed by Edinburgh band Idlewild, who celebrated their 20th anniversary this with the release of their first album for five years, the critically acclaimed Everything Ever Written.

The Street Party presents a stellar line-up across four stages. Maximo Park, Mercury Prize nominees Slaves, and Glasgow band White will light up the Waverley Stage, while on the Castle Stage, Celtic music stars Shooglenifty, Peatbog Faeries and Rura will welcome in the New Year with tunes to get everyone’s toes tapping. BBC 6Music’s Craig Charles will bring a set of the finest Funk and Soul classics to the Frederick Stage, which will be broadcast throughout the Street Party, while festival favourites Guilty Pleasures bring their non-stop cabaret party to the Mound Stage, fresh from their sell out run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

New for 2015, The Old Town Ceilidh will see some of the finest Scottish roots artists playing across two stages in Parliament Square including Sporran Again, Cask Strength Ceilidh Band, Whisky Kiss and Ceilidhdonia. Ceilidh makers will be on hand to show people the moves and attendees will be invited to dance their way into the record books, as they attempt to smash the Guinness World Record for the Largest Scottish Country Dance, with a target of 2016 people.

While tickets for the Concert in the Gardens and the Old Town Ceilidh are SOLD OUT, tickets are still available for the Street Party (£25 including booking fee) from the Hogmanay Box Office at The Fringe Office, 180 High Street, Edinburgh. The Box Office will be open until 8.00pm tomorrow night.

A free Hogmanay NightBus Service once again runs throughout the capital for revellers supported by sponsors Diageo and Lothian Buses with additional funding from Essential Edinburgh. This much welcome journey home at the end of the festivities is part of the Join the Pact global responsible drinking initiative from Johnnie Walker which has secured over one million personal commitments from people across the world to never to drink and drive. The service starts at 00:20 and runs until 04:00. Stagecoach, in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council, will be operating free Hogmanay NightBuses from the city centre to South Queensferry. 

The entertainment continues on the 1st of January with a programme of activities for all the family: For the hardy, the sold out Stoats Loony Dook – the annual New Year’s Day dip in the River Forth - will start off with a communal warm-up and fancy dress competition, before Dookers Parade through South Queensferry at 2.30pm. The brave (or daft) Loony Dookers will then take to the water, while those not quite brave enough to take the plunge can watch the action from vantage points along the beach and through the town.

On New Year’s Day, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay also presents Scot:Lands – a pop-up, multi-arts Festival within a Festival. Hidden in 11 beautiful buildings and spaces in the city’s Old Town, Scot:Lands offers audiences very best in music, art and theatre, created and curated by Scotland’s most innovative artists and arts organisations and all for free. This year they can discover music, dance, spoken word, film, performance, great food and for the first time a Wee Scot:Lands especially for families. The day culminates in The Final Fling, the closing ceilidh in the National Museum of Scotland. Scot:Lands is supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund.

Full details of Edinburgh's Hogmanay are available at www.edinburghshogmanay.com

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