Bringing a sparkle into the new year
More than 60,000 revellers celebrated Hogmanay on Edinburgh’s Princes Street last night, including partygoers Bel Liria, 27, from Barcelona, Hannah Berntsson, 24, and Lydia Westwood, 24, both from Derby, and Cristina Fernandez, 21, also from Barcelona, helping bring in 2019
Tens of thousands of revellers from around the world descended on Edinburgh for the 25th anniversary of its Hogmanay festival.
Visitors from more than 80 countries were said to have bought tickets for festivities now said to be worth around £40 million to the economy.
Crowds who braved the blustery weather were greeted with large hoardings proclaiming this year’s “We Love You” theme for the three days of festivities, which included a programme lasting almost eight hours on Hogmanay.
Tickets sales from countries across the EU were said to have soared in the wake of a charm offensive aimed at attracting more European visitors to the event to coincide with the runup to Brexit.
Around 80,000 people were entertained by concerts, costumed street performers, aerial acrobats and ceilidh bands throughout the vast arena on and around Princes Street, starting with a family-friendly concert with Massaoke at 5pm. Four fireworks displays were staged from 6pm ahead of the main display at midnight, which was set to a soundtrack of music by a German techno band, Meute.
Scottish indie-rock favourites Franz Ferdinand headlined the flagship Concert in the Gardens 15 years after a previous planned appearance fell victim to bad weather hours before they were due to take the stage.
The 60,000-capacity street party was declared a sellout more than 24 hours in advance, while organisers reported a last-minute rush for tickets to see Franz Ferdinand and an open-air ceilidh beneath Edinburgh Castle.
Among the acts entertaining the crowds on Princes Street were performers in illuminated horse costumes, giant dancing puppets created by the Spanish company El Carromato, Belgian breakdancing troupe Prison Break Rockerz and the all-female “Divas and District” Scottish pipe band.
Engineer Elena Fagnani, from Milan, was taking in the Bairns Afore event in Princes Street Gardens with six other relatives after arranging a house swap with an Edinburgh family.
She said: “Everybody knows Edinburgh is a wonderful city and we had heard that it had a very special atmosphere at this time of year, with the Christmas markets, the decorations, the torchlight parade and the street party.
“Everything has been beyond my expectations. It’s been a bit like thrown back into the past, but at the same time Edinburgh is such as modern, interesting city. It’s been great just to walk around.”
Parth Shah, 33, from Bombay, in India, who was at the Princes Street party with two friends, said: “I’ve just finished studying in Stirling and will probably be going back home in a few weeks, so I really wanted to come to Edinburgh for Hogmanay. My friends and I have heard a lot about these celebrations. They’re a lot different to anything we have back home. It’s clearly on a much bigger scale. We do have events, but they are usually scattered all over the city. They certainly don’t have a big party in the middle of the street. There is so much to see and so much to experience.”
Ian Zhang, 21, from Anhui, in China, said: “I’m studying events and hospitality management in Coventry at the moment. I’m really keen to get a deeper understanding of culture in Britain and I know Scotland is very different to England. Edinburgh was my first preference for a place to spend Hogmanay. The atmosphere feels a bit like Shanghai where people come together to celebrate the moment of the new year. Edinburgh feels as if it is full of culture and history.”
Thomas Burhorn, trumpeter and founder of Meute, who worked with sound designer Dan Jones and the Macedonian Symphony Orchestra to create the midnight fireworks soundtrack, said: “All we really knew about Hogmanay in Edinburgh before we worked on this project were the crazy Scots who run into the freezing water on New Year’s Day.
“It was a big honour and really nice to have cooperation on a project that goes beyond all borders. It’s been so easy to work with everyone in Edinburgh and get here. We really hope that remains the case in future.”
Donald Wilson, Edinburgh City Council’s culture leader, said: “Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has long been the envy of cities across the globe. The events
provide a massive injection into the city and the country’s economy and showcase Scottish culture to people all over the world.”
New Year’s Day events include a family-friendly ceilidh at the Mcewan Hall, which is also hosting two world music concerts programmed in collaboration with Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival. Around 1,000 revellers are expected to take part in the traditional “Loony Dook” at South Queensferry.
Clockwise from main: Crowds gather on Edinburgh’s Waverley Bridge; Massaoke on stage at the Bairns Afore curtainraiser; Hogmanay fireworks above Princes Street Gardens; Performers in illuminated horse costumes; Princes Street filled with revellers and performers; Rory, 5, from Edinburgh