Edinburgh and the Lothians Feature

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Hogmanay: Hello, New Year

In Scotland, New Year's Eve is called Hogmanay. Around Scotland celebrations continue the next day with customs such as "first-footing"—visiting your neighbors with gifts that include whisky, all with the purpose of bringing good fortune. It's so important that January 2 as well as January 1 is a holiday in Scotland; the rest of the United Kingdom settles for recuperating on January 1.

What to Expect

Edinburgh's Hogmanay extends over several days with spectacles and performances (music, dance, and more); the yearly changing lineup includes many free events. Festivities featuring fire add a dramatic motif; buildings may open for rare night tours; a ceilidh offers dancing outdoors to traditional music; and family concerts and serious discussions during the day round out the agenda. At the heart of Hogmanay, though, is the evening street party on New Year's Eve, with different music stages, food and drink (and people do drink), and the heart-lifting—despite the cold—sight of glowing fireworks over Edinburgh Castle and the singing of "Auld Lang Syne," written by Scotland's own Robert Burns.

Planning Basics

Besides the £20 you'll pay to get into the Princes Street celebration, expect to shell out extra for related events. For example, the big-name concert in the Princes Street Gardens will run you £30 or more. Book rooms as far ahead as possible. Obvious but essential is warmth: crazy hats and the bundled-up look are de rigueur. Check out www.edinburghshogmanay.com for full details, and have a happy Hogmanay!

Updated: 2014-02-13

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