I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of high-pressured holidays. You know the ones I am talking about: New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Halloween. These are holidays that are designed to be fun and memorable, but often leave you in a stressed state, of making reservations, planning things to the “T” and making it more memorable than the last. I often feel stressed, and when it comes down to it, it never comes out the way I planned (perhaps I am being a bit hard on myself..,) and I am often disappointed.
Well until now!
This year some friends and I took on Edinburgh’s Hogmanay to ring in 2015, and let me say it was one of the most fun, economical, and memorable NYE ever. So much so, that I would even consider coming back in the future, knowing it could be colder than it was this time around.
But let me step back and give you my frame of reference. I have celebrated (in my adult-life) NYE in Times Square (New York) twice, London three times, Boston twice, NOLA once, and the list goes on. As you can see, I travel to varying parts of the world to have a good NYE, and start the year off great. Now in most cases, NYE was amazing, because it was the people I was with. But trust me, when I say I had a lot of anxiety about whether it was going to be a successful trip. Even if I spent hours planning it, there was always a question as to whether it would all work out. I have no regrets, but I must say Edinburgh truly knows how to throw a party for all ages, with a laid-back atmosphere that allows for a rave-like energy that goes well into the night.
Hogmanay, is the Scots word for last day of year, synonymous with New Years. The celebration in Edinburgh ends the night with the crowd of over 75,000 singing Auld Lang Syne. Since its inception, it has expanded to a three day festival of concerts, tours, theatrical events, carnival like rides, Christmas Market-esque food and drink, torchlight processions and multiple firework shows. During the Street Party, the security system kept it safe, flexible about what you could bring in (as long as it wasn’t glass), and sold tickets to various parts of the night for crowd control purposes. While it was crowded, the atmosphere was buzzing from 7pm, the stereo system resonated clearly throughout the city, tons of music, and traditional Scottish music and dances had throughout.
All I had to do was buy tickets to the Torchlight Procession, Keilidh, and Street Party, and I let the city do the rest. My five friends and I, rented an apartment, stalked up on snacks and beverages and followed their itinerary. We had no idea what to expect, and luckily the weather was on our side. But what we experienced was a lovely surprise. The procession was beautiful, with over 15,000 people walking to Calton Hill with torchlights. We made some friends along the way, took great pictures, saw a great musically-led fireworks show and managed to not singe anyone. The Keilidh and Street Party on NYE was an all night party with multiple stalls of food and drink, making friends while attempting to execute scottish dance moves, playing American drinking games while we waited for the Fireworks, watching an amazing firework show to ring in 2015, and then roaming the streets of Edinburgh looking for an after-party, and finding a lovely underground pub with live bands doing rock cover songs. There were plenty of options, little queues, and budget-friendly festivities.
What did I like most about this NYE in Edinburgh, compared to my previous NYE adventures:
- The laxed rules about what you could bring into the arena (e.g. as long as it wasn’t glass they allowed it)
- It was for those “of age”, so for the NYE night, no families, but Torchlight Procession is a great family event. So something for everyone
- The abundance of security, so you felt safe but knew you could have a lot of fun
- The amazing sound system. No matter where we stood over the three day celebration, whether it was on the Edinburgh Castle, down by the train station, or walking down an alley, you could hear announcements and music clearly. It was as if I had my own earplugs synced to their city system
- The ability to show up to the party at 9:30pm and still get through the crowds and find an excellent spot to watch the fireworks about 30min before midnight without being stressed (e.g. compared to NYE in Times Square when you have to show up at 5pm or earlier to get a decent spot to watch the ball drop)
- No matter where you were in the city, you could experience the Firework show
- The affordability of options. The entire 3-part festivities cost us no more than £50. In most cities thats the cost of a NYE party in some club/bar
- The amount of late-night options that didn’t require pre-booking and were either free or £5 entry AND they were quality after-spots
- The ability to stay central to the city, walk home and not worry about cabs (Note: Late night Buses were also available for FREE) for a reasonable price
Because of the fun but stress-free NYE, I was able to take time to do all the things I want to do as I acknowledge the new year. Gives me time to review my finances, spend time with myself to gauge what the coming year would be like, and reflect on the previous year and most of all focus on family and friends.
If you want a more detailed itinerary of NYE in Edinburgh, click here.