Everything You Need To Know About Hogmanay, The Scottish Street Party Of The Year

Katie O'Malley
Photo credit: Jeff J Mitchell - Getty Images


If ever there were an excuse to gather with your pals in the street, start a ceilidh, gorge on haggis and sip on mulled wine, Hogmanay is it.

Every year, tourists and Scots alike head to Scotland’s hilly capital, Edinburgh, for events including torchlit processions, fireworks, the Loony Dook dip and candlelit concerts to usher in the New Year.

To celebrate the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, this year revellers will take to the streets to party to the tunes of Mark Ronson’s Hogmanay in the Gardens and the First Footer Family Ceilidh, while others will be dining on neeps and tatties and washing it down with a pint under the stars.

Here’s everything you need to know about Hogmanay, from what it is, where it’s celebrated, and how to get to Edinburgh on a budget:

What is Hogmanay?

To put it simply, the word ‘hogmanay’ is the Scottish word for the last day of the year (Gregorian calendar) and refers to the festivities that happen in the lead up to the coming New Year.

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According to Edinburgh Hogmanay's official website, the holiday is sometimes considered more important than Christmas, as the Church of Scotland outlawed it for nearly 400 years, with the festive holiday only becoming a public holiday in 1958.

However, Hogmanay has been celebrated for centuries and calls for a big party across Scotland (no surprise that 1 and 2 January are public holidays in Scotland, #hangover). Scottish tradition dictates that it's lucky to eat circular shaped food (think haggis and cake) on New Year’s Day to symbolise ‘coming full circle’ and good fortune.

Eating ‘greens’, such as spinach, kale, green beans, are also thought to be lucky as they resemble money, as are black-eyed peas or lentils, which look like coins.

Where is Hogmanay?

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay events start on 30 December with its annual Torchlight Procession, and ends on 25 January 2019 with Message from the Skies.

Although the exact locations of events change year to year, most occur in or around Princes Street Gardens, the Waverley train station, The Mound, McEwan Hall, the Royal Mile, and Calton Hill.

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When it comes to celebrating Hogmanay, there are several ways to travel around Edinburgh. Both railway stations (Waverley & Haymarket) are located in the city centre, and on 31 December, Edinburgh Trams will be running a free tram service to get you home, from midnight – 5am.

On 31 December Lothian Buses will be offering a Hogmanay Ticket for £5 (this will permit unlimited travel from 6pm on 31 December - 4am on 1 January).

Better yet, you can also off-set the carbon produced by your journey to Edinburgh when purchasing event tickets. Find out more here about how to do that.

What’s the best way to get to Edinburgh?

No matter where you’re travelling from to get to Edinburgh after Christmas, it’s best to get your tickets pronto to avoid rising prices and delays.

An open-return train ticket via Trainline.com, leaving at 9am from London’s Kings Cross on 31 December will set you back around £147 (without a railcard) and take approximately 4.20hrs.

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Meanwhile, a return flight from Luton Airport, leaving around 9am on 31 December and arriving in Edinburgh, will cost around £109 and take 1.15hrs.

If you really want to save your pennies, you could drive or grab a Megabus for a ticket starting at £23.30 on 31 December.

Who is performing at Hogmanay 2019?

Everyone from toddlers to pensioners will be delighted at the Hogmanay 2019 line up, with an array of festive events happening from 30 December – 1 January.

On 30 November, a torchlit procession will take place through the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. A ticket is required to take part in the event, with 50p from every one going towards OneCity Trust, which fights inequality and exclusion in the City of Edinburgh.

On New Year’s Eve, partygoers will be able to attend a street party hosted by Johnnie Walker, take part in a ceilidh under Edinburgh Castle, sing at a candlelit concert, and boogie to Mark Ronson’s live set with Rudimental and Mungo's Hi Fi. To finish/start off the party, the annual midnight fireworks will light up the sky.

Photo credit: Steve Granitz

Hogmanay’s official after-party will then be taking revellers into the wee hours with late-night DJ sets at McEwan Hall.

For the brave among you, the annual Loony Dook will be heading down to South Queensfery with visitors taking a dip in the Firth of Forth dressed in fancy dress, day attire and barely anything at all. Fortunately, there’s a variety of pubs and cafes open on New Year’s Day to help warm swimmers up afterwards.

What do the street party tickets grant you access to?

Firstly, you can purchase Hogmanay street party tickets here.

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However, bear in mind that tickets only grant access to the Street Party arena. Street Party tickets will not allow you to sneak into Mark Ronson's Hogmanay in the Gardens or Ceilidh under the Castle events. However, tickets for Ronson's gig will grant you access to the Edinburgh's Hogmanay Street Party hosted by Johnnie Walker, but Ceilidh under the Castle tickets won’t.

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