The Edinburgh Blogmanay experience – the ultimate New Year party
Hogmanay. Aside from the blank expressions of those not-in-the-know, it’s a word sure to trigger something between a subtle smirk and a gummy grin for anyone with previous of our annual party to end all parties. Every year in our capital begins and ends with an epic celebration that makes Edinburgh the best place to be for your start to the New Year. This year I’ve joined the #blogmanay team to cover 3 days’ worth of activities and events and here’s my download to this unique time of year.
Bringing together some of the top international and local scribblers and photographers, #blogmanay has been a hugely successful element within the event for the last couple of years and our schedule begins as early as December 29th and a visit to the renowned Scotch Whisky Experience. Whisky daft as I am it was a privileged first look at the world’s largest collection that would drop any jaw. 3384 bottles covering brands old and new from around the world, this collection took Brazilian Claive Vidiz over 35 years to build. I’m going through an Ardbeg phase in particular at the moment, you can imagine my wonder.
For visitors old and new to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, the festivities begin on the evening of the 30th with the famous Torchlight Procession through the city centre’s streets. This has always been a personal highlight of mine. Cultures combine as Shetland Vikings and bagpipers merge into a melee of determined celebration in the triumphant walk to Calton Hill. The numbers participating and spectating exceeded 35,000 in what is an incredible prelude to the big night itself. Looking down on the army of torchbearers from Calton Hill is an image to raise any hair – can there be a place in the world better than this scene right now?
Wearied with awe already, there is nothing more to be done but tackle the big day itself. Others have tried to replicate Edinburgh’s scale and effect in recent years but for me, Scotland’s capital still leads the way by some distance. Performing acts included Lily Allen, Edinburgh’s Young Fathers and Twilight Sad as well as the DJ Hot Dub Time Machine which belted out classics spanning decades. With the weather on our side and event organisation impressively handled given the sheer scale involved, the night could hardly have gone better. The fireworks are always an event in themselves and every hour from 9pm the masses are treated to a display from the castle, leading to the spectacular finale as we cross into the New Year at midnight.
The post-bells events rumble on into 2015 and include my latest Murrayfield rugby trip to be discussed later. For the brave and soberish (I can confirm that this did not include myself) there is the opportunity to embrace the madness that is the Loony Dook on New Year’s Day. Frolicking in the icy River Forth dressed as anything from Batman to Yoda, it’s one way to go.
A world class event in a world class city, this year’s Edinburgh Blogmanay has been another one to remember. Bringing a close to “Scotland’s Year” of 2014 when the media spotlight was on us like never before, it also screams out that we’re not going anywhere. Bring on 2015!