Bring­ing a sparkle into the new year

The Scotsman - - Front Page - By BRIAN FER­GU­SON Arts Cor­re­spon­dent

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.

MAIN PIC­TURE: IAN GEORGESON

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

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