When it comes to mid-winter celebrations, nothing beats a trip to Scotland for New Year. For more than 400 years, Christmas celebrations were virtually banned in Scotland for religious and political reasons, so the Hogmanay (an old Viking tradition) was a time to gather with friends and family, take a break from work, and enjoy some revelry. Today, the Hogmanay celebration is still one of the largest winter celebrations in Europe.
Most tourists head to Edinburgh for the Hogmanay. In this stunning historic city the celebrations last for 3 days and are a whirlwind of live music, dancing and fireworks, with nearly 100,000 people attending. The centrepiece is the New Year’s Eve street party. Wrap up warm and watch the city come to life.
There’s also a live concert in the beautiful Prince’s Street Gardens and a traditional ceilidh dance beneath the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. On 30th December you can watch the celebrations begin with a torch-lit procession through the streets. You’ll have to buy tickets in advance from the Hogmanay website for most events, and some packages are available.
Alongside the Hogmanay celebrations, Edinburgh comes to life during Christmas time. Pay a visit to the magical winter market on Prince’s Street to drink warm apple cider and browse craft and gift stalls, or take a ride on the ferris wheel for stunning views over the city.
Feeling brave? As a local tradition you can take a dip in the River Forth on the 1st January as part of the ‘Loony Dook‘. Warm bowls of porridge and tea are on offer to help you warm up after. To be right at the heart of the action stay at one of our 10 conveniently located hotels in Edinburgh
If you’d rather get away from the crowds of tourists, consider a short drive from Edinburgh to Stirling, which has its own rich history. Here, you can celebrate the New Year in grand style in the great hall of the beautiful castle, accompanied by live music from the Waterboys. After midnight, head into town where a carnival procession will pass through the streets. Before you leave, make sure to visit the Wallace Monument near the University of Stirling for incredible views.
For more wintry festive cheer pay a visit to Glasgow. Grab a pair of ice skates and hit the ‘Glasgow on Ice’ rink right in the heart of the busy city centre, or get your adrenalin kicks at Europe’s largest indoor funfair, the Irn Bru Carnival in the SECC centre. Be warned, thousands of tourists visit Scotland for the Hogmanay celebrations so it’s a good idea to book your accommodation in advance. Try one of our great-value hotels in Glasgow.
4. Highland Adventures
Interested in getting out into rural Scotland? Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, hosts one of the best free Hogmanay celebrations. The Red Hot Highland Fling features local artists and a huge firework display at midnight. If you plan to combine Hogmanay celebrations with a trip around the Scottish Highlands, you’ll find a number of local Travelodge hotels including one in Fort William. It’s less than a mile to the entrance of the stunning 96-mile West Highland Way walking trail.
Top tip: Wrap up warm! The temperatures in Scotland for New Year often drop below freezing so you will need a hat and gloves as well as a warm coat and boots.