When thinking of a good place to ring in the New Year, Scotland might not be the first place to come to mind. I mean, it’s technically not even an independent country. What would they know about partying?
Every year, I think about where I should celebrate the New Year. I’ve done Times Square. I’ve done Chile. I’ve done my parents’ basement. This year, following over a year of backpacking and encountering a fair number of Scots, nothing has come to mind as much as Hogmanay. Sure, everywhere in the world has their own version of welcoming the New Year, but apparently few do it quite like the Scots.
Here’s what you need to know about Hogmanay in Edinburgh.
Hogmanay is Scottish for the last day of the year, which is pretty self-explanatory. It dates back to debaucherous Vikings celebrating their most heathenistic desires, and while it may not be as wild as the Norse parties of the past, it still gets pretty rowdy.
The party starts off pretty Viking-like. I’m not entirely sure how historically accurate my vision of how the Vikings partied is, but it starts with a torch-bearing procession. Literally thousands of people march up the street with torches, while drums and pipes boom in the background. The torches make what looks like a mile-long river of fire through the center of Edinburgh. The night caps off with some fireworks of course.
But wait, there’s more. That’s just December 30th, day one of the three-day celebration.
December 31st is when the party gets wild, featuring the world-famous Hogmanay street party. Stoke Travel, Europe’s premier organization for partying and traveling, describes the epic setting as “four street party stages and eight large screens that line the streets.” With four fireworks displays every hour starting at 9:00 PM (21:00), the New Year’s vibes are in full swing. Sound like an epic time?
If you’re not all partied out by then, Stoke Travel also hosts a legendary afterparty after the clock hits midnight and the street party begins to wear down. If you book Hogmanay 2017-18 with them, you get free access to this afterparty and way more. Make sure to use my code “letsgetlit” to get free unlimited beer and sangria throughout Hogmanay, because that’s probably the only way you can improve on what is set to be an already epic party.
Stoke’s journey starts off with a party train from London, covering transportation, accommodation, a lit squad, and a unique pregame for one of the world’s most unique New Year’s celebrations. As of right now, I checked and the trip is already 65% full with over two months left to go, so you should consider booking it as soon as possible!
If you’ve survived Hogmanay (or Stokemanay), the following day obviously calls for recovery. What better way to cool off, literally, than taking a leap into a chilly river? Join the parade of people in their funky outfits as they dive into the River Forth.
Of course sleeping in is just an option. For more information on what Hogmanay offers, check out Visit Scotland’s info page. Bonfires, fire shows, live performances, and a lot of alcohol are some of the other highlights.
Edinburgh is a world-class city that is teeming with excitement. There is no better time to go than during Hogmanay if you’re looking for a crazy week to remember for the rest of your life. Start 2018 off properly.
Have you ever been to Hogmanay? Are you going this year? Let me know what’s up in the comments below!