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, while the rest of the United Kingdom trudges back to work.

What to Expect

Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations extend over several days, with music, dance, and theater performances taking place throughout the city. The lineup changes every year, but always includes a number of free events. Festivities featuring fire add a dramatic motif; buildings may open for rare night tours; a ceilidh has everyone 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 cockle-warming sight of glowing fireworks over Edinburgh Castle. And it all ends with communal renditions of "Auld Lang Syne." written by Scotland's own Robert Burns.

Planning Basics

Besides the £30 you'll pay to get into the street party celebrations, expect to shell out extra for some related events. For example, the torchlight procession on December 30 costs around £15, while the big-name concert in the Princes Street Gardens on 30 will run you a wallet-punching £70. Book rooms as far ahead as possible. Obvious but essential is warmth: superfluffy hats and the bundled-up look are de rigueur. Check out www.edinburghshogmanay.com for full details.

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