Edinburgh's Hogmanay set to be busier than ever

Unique Events, who have produced Edinburgh’s Hogmanay on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council for 24 years, advised revellers to buy and collect their Street Party tickets early.

Edinburgh Hogmanay fireworks
The Midnight Moment 2016

Tickets are already sold out for The Night Afore Concert, Concert in the Gardens, Candlelit Concert and the Old Town Ceilidh with Belhaven as well as all events on Sunday 1 January. Last remaining tickets for the world famous Street Party are still available as are limited torches and wristbands for the Torchlight Procession, however both these events sold out in 2014 and 2015 and are on course to sell out again this year.  Organisers encourage revellers to buy and collect tickets now to avoid disappointment.
The three day Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival kicks off tomorrow (Friday 30 December) with the family-favourite Torchlight Procession launched with a lift of fireworks from Calton Hill. 10,000 Torchbearers, accompanied by friends and family and led by 30 Up Helly Aa Vikings from Shetland and 4 pipe bands, illuminate the streets of the City from Edinburgh’s Old Town to the fireworks finale which this year, to close Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016, will be extended to include a lighting display on St Andrew’s House. The Procession leaves Edinburgh’s Old Town at 7.00pm and will be viewed by an estimated 30,000 spectators along the route. This year, for the first time, all accompanying friends and family must purchase a £3 wristband to join the Procession. A 50p donation from the sale of every torch and wristband will be made to the official Edinburgh’s Hogmanay charity UNICEF to help children affected by the war in Syria. Access to the Procession and the finale viewing areas at Waterloo Place and Calton Hill are exclusively available to those with wristbands however the fireworks can be viewed from surrounding streets and vantage points across the city. Pre-booked torches and wristbands will be available for collection from St Giles Street from 2.00pm on the day. 

Also on 30 December, for the first time there will be a second headline concert in West Princes Street Gardens.The Night Afore Concert features headliner Paolo Nutini who will be joined by special guests Frightened Rabbit, The Vegan Leather and winners of the Hog the Stage Competition, CRYSTAL.   Doors open for The Night Afore Concert at 6.00pm with CRYSTAL live on stage from 6.30pm – tickets holders are strongly advised to get there promptly, and go to the entrance specified on their ticket, as the city centre will be extremely busy. Ticket holders going to the Night Afore Concert should make their way to West Princes Street Gardens from the West End of Princes Street for all entrance gates to avoid the Torchlight Procession. Tickets for the Night Afore Concert are sold out. 

On Saturday 31 December, celebrations start early with More Tales of a Charlatan at 12.30pm when Tim Burgess will be in conversation with Vic Galloway at Rainy Hall. 

The world famous Street Party sees performances from The Charlatans, Fatherson and Be Charlotte on the Waverley Stage, while the Scottish Stage on Castle Street welcomes Salsa Celtica, Manran and Ali Hutton and Ross Ainslie.  Guilty Pleasures provides the soundtrack to the Street Party live from the Frederick Street Stage broadcast across screens along the length of Princes Street, and the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival takes over the Mound Stage bringing some of the best Scottish Jazz, Blues and Funk acts to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay.  

Countdown firework displays on the hour from 9.00pm on 31 December will culminate in the world-renowned Midnight Moment firework display lifting from Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street Gardens and Calton Hill.  This year the Midnight Moment will showcase the drama of Edinburgh's historic cityscape to the world with the addition of a spectacular laser and light show supported by Creative Scotland through the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund and by the City of Edinburgh Council to launch 2017, the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh becoming a world leading Festival City.  Details of timings of all fireworks displays over the Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations can be found on www.edinburghshogmanay.com.

Cllr Richard Lewis, Edinburgh’s Festival and Events Champion, said: “The countdown to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is on and it really is set to be a cracker. With three days of spectacular events including the Torchlight Procession and the Stoats Loony Dook, plus so many stages offering fantastic entertainment at the Street Party, be quick to get your ticket to the greatest New Year celebration on earth.”

Penny Dougherty and Alan Thomson, Directors of Unique Events who have produced Edinburgh’s Hogmanay on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council since 1993, said “This year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has some of the largest and most ambitious events we’ve ever produced for the festival. If people still want to join the party, they need to get their Torchlight Procession or Street Party wristbands fast to experience a night of incredible music and the largest firework, light and laser show ever seen from Edinburgh Castle; it’s going to be spectacular.”

The showcase Concert in the Gardens on 31 December sold out in a record three hours, and this year is headlined by Paolo Nutini who will be joined by special guests Lightning Seeds, The Vegan Leather and the winners of the Hog the Stage competition, Lemonhaze.   

The Candlelit Concert will take place in the magnificent setting of St Giles’ Cathedral and the record-breaking Old Town Ceilidh with Belhaven returns to Parliament Square with two live open air stages featuring the best in traditional Scottish music and a new sponsor in Belhaven Brewery, who will be providing revellers with the best in local food and drink.  The main Ceilidh Stage features performances from Kilter and HotScotch and ‘Ceilidh Makers’ will be on hand to make sure everyone knows the moves. The smaller stage features the very best in young Scottish musicians, including the award-winning Talisk, Top Floor Taivers and musicians from Feis Rois, for a more informal atmosphere.  Dancers are advised to wear sturdy, flat footwear as the Ceilidh takes place in the historic Old Town and much of the arena has cobbled streets. Tickets for both these events are sold out.

Unicef, the leading children’s organisation, is the Edinburgh’s Hogmanay official charity partner again in 2016 and partygoers will be encouraged to support Unicef to help children whose lives have been turned upside down by the continuing conflict in Syria. At 10.00pm, in the middle of the world famous Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party, a one minute Unicef blue firework display will lift from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle.  Donations can be made to Unicef by texting BLANKET to 70060 to donate £3.  

A free Hogmanay NightBus Service once again runs for revellers throughout the city supported by Diageo and the City of Edinburgh Council and provided by Lothian Buses. The service starts at 00:20 and runs until 04:00 and will help around 20,000 people get home safely. Edinburgh Trams are, for the first time, offering free Hogmanay Tram Services to ensure revellers can leave the city centre after the celebrations. Free trams will run from midnight until 05:00 every 20 minutes. Details of times and routes can be found at www.edinburghshogmanay.com.  

While all tickets for Night Afore Concert, Concert in the Gardens, The Old Town Ceilidh with Belhaven and The Candlelit Concert are sold out, there are still Street Party wristbands available (£25 incl booking fee).  These can be booked on-line at www.edinburghshogmanay.com or on the phone on 0844 573 8455 but must be collected from the Box Office at 180 High Street, Edinburgh before 8.00pm on 31 December.   Limited pre-booked torch vouchers and wristbands for the Torchlight Procession are also available through the Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Box Office.  Places at the Stoats Loony Dook and tickets for Scot:Lands and The Final Fling on Sunday 1 January are sold out.

Chief Superintendent Kenny MacDonald, Divisional Commander for Edinburgh, said:  “I want to take this opportunity to re-assure the public that, as always, there will be a proportionate policing presence to support the stewards and event organisers in delivering a safe and secure series of events in Edinburgh on the 30th and 31st of December including the Torchlight procession and the Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party.

“As is routine for these events it is customary to have a very visible police presence.  This will consist of uniformed as well as specialist officers all with the common goal of keeping people safe.  You can approach these officers at any time if you require any form of assistance or have witnessed any form of suspicious activity.  Significant pre-event planning with the Event Organisers, City of Edinburgh Council and other emergency services has taken place over several months to ensure the events are delivered as safely as possible.   
 “If you are planning to come to the Street Party with friends or with your family, please make sure that you look after one another and have plans in place for getting home safely.  Dress sensibly and wrap up warm, and if you are drinking then please do so responsibly.  “On behalf of everyone at Police Scotland I hope you have a safe and enjoyable, Hogmanay and New Year.”

G4S Events Managing Director, Eric Alexander, said: “The annual Hogmanay celebration represents the best Edinburgh has to offer and G4S is honoured to once again help secure this event.  Having coordinated the security at this event for so many years now, we know exactly what’s needed to ensure everyone has a great time. This includes everything from stewarding and security services to managing crowd movement and ensuring everyone gets home safely.    The whole team looks forward to supporting the celebrations each year and 2017 looks set to be another great one. We’re looking forward to helping secure this highlight of the festive season for many more years to come.”

Senior Met Office Advisor, Graeme Forrester said, “Edinburgh looks like being largely dry right up to the New Year.  However, Hogmanay itself will be blustery and we may see some rain during the afternoon.  Hopefully any rain will clear by evening but by the time of the bells it will feel cold so make sure you have enough layers on.”
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will continue on Sunday 1 January with a programme of free activities for all the family.  The Stoats Loony Dook sees 1,100 ‘Dookers’ in fancy dress, ranging from the weird to the wonderful, welcome the New Year with a dip in the River Forth at South Queensferry.  Thousands of spectators are expected to line the streets to watch the Dookers parade through the town at 12.45pm before plunging into the chilly water under the shadow of the world famous Forth Bridges.  The event is again supported by Stoats, who’ll be there on the day, warming everyone up with bowls of energising porridge, giveaways and a fabulous fancy dress competition.  South Queensferry has a variety of pubs, cafes and restaurants, all of which will be open on New Year’s Day. 

An essential component of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, Scot:Lands  takes over New Year’s Day as a multi-arts festival in its own right and offers a scintillating selection of the best of Scotland’s artistic talent – intriguing, provocative, sometimes reflective; always entertaining.  With many of the performances created or re-imagined exclusively for Scot:Lands, this pop-up, multi-arts Festival offers one chance, on one afternoon only, for audiences to enjoy an extraordinary collection of spoken word, dance, music and film, fashioned and curated by some of Scotland’s most innovative artists and arts organisations.  Scot:Lands is supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund.  

The Final Fling, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay closing ceilidh, will take place at 5.30pm at the National Museum of Scotland on Sunday 1 January.  Tickets are already SOLD OUT.

Finally, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay also introduces Sprogmanay – New Year fun for families with young children offering lantern processions, arts and crafts, storytelling, music and a family ceilidh over the three days of the Festival.  Sprogmanay will be concentrated in and around the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street.

What you need to know:
•    Everyone wishing to participate in the Torchlight Procession must purchase a torch (with a wristband) or additional wristbands (a 50p donation to Unicef is made for every torch and wristband sold).
•    If you have tickets to both on 30 December you can enjoy the Torchlight Procession and Night Afore Concert but we recommend you do not go up Calton Hill to view the finale, as dispersal off the Hill at the end of the event takes time and you may miss the concert.
•    The Old Town, The Mound and Princes Street will be very busy on 30 December – if you’re going to the Night Afore Concert please make your way to West Princes Street Gardens early and enter from the West End of Princes Street for all entrance gates to avoid the Torchlight Procession – Concert gates open at 6.00pm and the gate you should use is specified on your ticket.
•    Those travelling to the Night Afore Concert on the 30 December by train should alight at Haymarket Station and walk to entrance gates for West Princes Street Gardens along Shandwick Place (approx. 10min walk).
•    We recommend you purchase your Street Party wristband in advance of the 31st – the Street Party is on track to sell out. If you’ve haven’t purchased your tickets and/or wristbands beforehand do not travel to Edinburgh.
•    We recommend you collect pre-purchased Street Party wristbands early – the Box Office in the Fringe Shop on the High Street will be open till 8.00pm on 31 December but can get very busy. Better still collect them before the 31st if you can.
•    Arena, bar and attractions open for the Street Party at 7.00pm.   Concert in the Gardens and Old Town Ceilidh Arenas open at 8.00pm.   All Street Party and Old Town Ceilidh Stages live at 9.00pm.  Concert in the Gardens stage live at 8.30pm.
•    If you are enjoying the events on the 30 or 31 December, you are reminded to expect large crowds.
•    Make sure you’re in the Street Party, Old Town Ceilidh with Belhaven and Concert in the Gardens before 11.00pm – no entry after that time.
•    Public Transport or walking is the best way to get to any of the events although buses will be diverted and trams stop at Shandwick Place from 6pm on 30 December until 10am on the 1 January.
•    You can hop on a free NightBus or free tram home after midnight on 31 December – check www.edinburghshogmanay.com for details.
•    Text BLANKET to 70060 to give £3 to Unicef, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay official charity partner, to help children affected by the war in Syria.
•    Edinburgh’s Hogmanay audiences will be able to enjoy free WiFi access across Edinburgh city centre, delivered by intechnologyWiFi (in partnership with The City of Edinburgh Council).  The service offers fast internet coverage ‘on the go’ with no restrictions on time, allowing visitors to generate huge volumes of Hogmanay social media content from Edinburgh using hashtag Blogmanay.
•    Places at the Stoats Loony Dook in South Queensferry on 1 January are sold out – but spectators are welcome.  Dookers Parade starts at 12.45pm.  Stagecoach will be operating bus services to South Queensferry on New Year’s Day.   Check www.edinburghshogmanay.com for details.
•    SOLD OUT events – 30 December: Night Afore Concert, 31 December: Candlelit Concert, Old Town Ceilidh with Belhaven, Concert in the Gardens, 1 January: Stoats Loony Dook, Scot:Lands and The Final Fling.
•    Limited tickets still available for:  Torchlight Procession, Tim Burgess in Conversation with Vic Galloway and the World Famous Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party.

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