Hogmanay is the winter festival where Scotland comes into its own. It’s so much more than a New Year celebration, it’s a very big deal in Scotland.
Take Edinburgh. This historic city celebrates Hogmanay with a three-day festival, starting with a torchlight procession on 30th December lead by real Vikings (or as near as) from the Royal Mile to Carlton Hill. The next day is devoted to the street party with concerts, ceilidhs and fireworks galore. Followed by a traditional dunk in the icy Forth the next day, known as the Loony Dook, for the bravest of visitors and locals.
|The Loony Dook, New Year's Day|
Other Traditions:First-Footing - After the stroke of midnight, friends and neighbours visit each other, with gifts such as shortbread or a lump of coal. In return they are given a wee dram to toast the New Year. It signifies your fortunes for the coming year.
Redding the House – A big clean up before new year, clearing away evil spirits and Christmas debris at the same time!
Fire Festivals – If the cleaning doesn’t get rid of the evil spirits, a giant bonfire and firelight procession might do the trick. The Stonehaven Fireballs festival (south of Aberdeen) is one of the most dramatic.
|Stonehaven Fireballs Festival|
Auld Lang Syne – Singing Robert Burns’ poem is an essential part of the celebrations. No miming, here are the words.
And you need to get physical, the singing is accompanied by a linking of arms which cross each singer’s chest.
Irn Bru – the traditional Scottish hangover cure.
Hostels at HogmanayMarthrown of Mabie, set in the heart of Mabie Forest, about 5 miles west of Dumfries, celebrate Hogmanay in style. This Hogmanay guests will be enjoying locally caught wild venison spit roast and mulled wine with all the trimmings and strudel for desert.
And there’s plenty of options for the next day’s recovery – relaxing in the traditional sauna and hot tub or exploring the forest mountain bike routes.
|Mountain bike trails through Mabie Forest|
Our Edinburgh hostels, Budget Backpackers and Smart City Hostel, both in the heart of the historic old town will be a hive of excitement over Hogmanay.
If you’d rather escape the mainland, Achaban House on the Isle of Mull, offers warm local hospitality, and is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts or the more sedate wildlife watchers.
Inverness celebrates with its Red Hot Highland Fling on the banks of the River Ness. Stay at Inverness Hostel, just a short walk from the centre of town.
Comrie in Perthshire parades huge torches, some nearly 10ft in height, around the village, then throws them into the River Earn. Stay at Comrie Croft, a lovely old Scottish farmstead set amongst the rugged hills and glens of the Southern Highlands.
If you're looking for something a little more formal (and indoors!) Aberdeen's annual Hogmanay Concert at Aberdeen Music Hall has live traditional Scottish music and comedians. Stay at Craibstone Estate Hostel set in 800 acres of glorious secluded grounds with woodland walks and wonderful wildlife.
Images courtesy of Visit Scotland.