Edinburgh Ready to See in 2012

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay three-day festival is about to open with the Torchlight Procession snaking from the Old Town along Princes Street to Calton Hill.

The festival is perhaps best-known for the Hogmanay Street Party on 31st December, which has been organised by Unique Events since 1993. What started as a free-for-all, became a free ticketed event within a cordoned city centre area in 1997 after, the previous year, huge crowds collapsed railings on Princes Street and hundreds of revellers were injured.

The Street Party has since slimmed down from a free, unticketed event for 300,000 to a ticketed event within an enclosed area for 80,000, costing £15 per ticket.


The weather forecast for festivities this year is relatively good, allaying fears that strong winds might put a dent in the New Year celebrations as they did in the 2003-2004 and 2006-2007, when the Hogmanay street party was cancelled at the last minute due to stormy weather.

Temperatures are forecast to stay above freezing although the strong southwest wind will mean that it will feel cold. Dress warm.

Hogmanay bands

This year's programme will include live music, DJ sets, traditional ceildih dancing, midnight fireworks, and the addition this year of New Year Games on the first day of 2012.

This year's Concert in the Gardens, under Edinburgh Castle, is headlined by Primal Scream. They are joined by Bombay Bicycle Club and Sons and Daughters. The concert is opened by Matt Norris and the Moon, the new, unsigned Edinburgh band and winners of this year’s Hog The Street Competition.

The Street Party will include a total of 7 live music stages. Headliners are Festival favourites The Vaccines and Friendly Fires, DJ Mark Ronson, Celtic folk rockers Peatbog Faeries and Capercaillie, Fringe Favourites Frisky & Mannish and The Cuban Brothers alongside a mix of artists that includes Kassidy, Wild Beasts, Jaymo & Andy George and Rura.

If you like a bit more birl with the bells, then The Keilidh is the place to be. Dance the night away on the outdoor dance floor on Mound Precinct with ceilidh bands Hugh McDiarmid’s Haircut, Ceilidhdonia and The Sensational Jimi Shandrix Experience.

Rise and bath early in 2012

The "fun" continues on Sunday 1 January with the Loony Dook, the annual dip in the River Forth at South Queensferry at 11.00am.

New this year is The New Year Games, which will take place in the Grassmarket and around the Old Town.

Two teams – the Uppies and Doonies – will play games in four venues - Dancebase, The Hub, St Giles Cathedral and the National Museum of Scotland.

Scottish artists and game design studio Hide&Seek re-imagined some of the traditional Scottish street games to create giant board games, secret missions and a huge playground in the Grassmarket. The event is supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund.

New Year's Livestream

A new initiative this year is a Hogmanay livestream. Up to 20,000 people will be able to watch Edinburgh’s Hogmanay streamed live online for the first time. The free download will include "exclusive" songs from Primal Scream and Friendly Fires - who are heading up the Hogmanay Concert in the Gardens. The midnight fireworks display will also be streamed.

Pete Irvine, Creative Director of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, said “With four of the six ticketed events already sold out, we are looking forward to a fantastic Hogmanay. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has a worldwide reputation, and we are delighted that, once again, revellers are travelling from around the globe to join us. And if you can’t make it in person this year – join us on-line for the first time and log onto the live streaming of the event.”

Edinburgh's Hogmanay Facts and Figures

  • Around 6,500 people will carry a torch in the Torchlight Procession, led by 17 Lerwick Up Helly Aa Vikings and five pipe bands with over 100 pipers and drummers.
  • An additional 20,000 spectators are expected to enjoy the Procession and the Son et Lumière display on Calton Hill. (Organisers strongly recommend that if you have pre-booked your torch, you come and collect it from the City Chambers early – the collection point opens at 2.00pm on Friday.)
  • Organisers say this year's event will attract revellers to Edinburgh from over 50 countries including Australia, Qatar, Peru, Bahrain, Malta, New Zealand, Botswana, Taiwan and Trinidad & Tobago.
  • A total of 24 acts will perform across seven stages at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party, Concert in the Gardens and The Keilidh. 3,000 people will birl through the bells at the traditional outdoor Keilidh.
  • There will be 17 camera positions to capture the performances and atmosphere which will be broadcasting onto eight giant screens in and around Princes Street in the Street Party Arena.
  • They will all link up at midnight to ensure revellers enjoy the countdown to the Bells at midnight. Organisers claim that pictures from Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will be broadcast to over a billion people in 150 countries via the BBC, Sky, ITN and Associated Press Television Network.
  • The fireworks display will see 5.5 tonnes of explosives set off, with over 2,800 individual firework cues producing over 15,000 stars will be let off during the Midnight Fireworks display over Edinburgh Castle and Calton Hill.
  • This will be followed by 80,000 revellers singing the world’s largest Auld Lang Syne at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party on New Year’s Eve.
  • 380 officers from Lothian and Borders Police and around 650 stewards will be on duty at the Street Party
  • Such a large party requires approximately 250 temporary toilets, 11,686m of temporary fencing, 20 miles of cable and 50 temporary generators will be used to stage the Street Party.
  • Lothian buses will provide ticketed revellers with free bus travel on Hogmanay night
  • 1,100 people will splash into the chilly waters of the Forth in the shadow of the iconic Forth Bridge at the 26th Loony Dook on New Year’s Day watched by an estimated additional 3,000 spectators.
  • Up to 9,000 people will be playing street games in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket and four further venues in the Old Town on 1 January at The New Year Games. Players will choose their teams (the Uppies or the Doonies) depending on where they live – north or south.
  • The combined weight of the winning tokens for the two teams, Uppies and Doonies, is 168 kilos. 8,000 sheets of florescent Day-Glo paper, 280 pompoms, 130 coloured balls, seven vintage car horns and a Minotaur will all feature in The New Year Games.
  • Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2010/11 is a key part of Scotland’s tourism calendar, and was worth more than £32 million to the Scottish economy last year, with 132,000 people coming to Edinburgh over the course of the festival.


  • Dress for the weather
  • Look after each other and arrange a meeting point
  • Think about how to get home
  • Police and stewards are on duty to look after everyone’s safety - bags may be searched on entry
  • Revellers are encouraged not to bring under 16s to Street Party on the 31 December.
  • People under the influence of too much alcohol may be refused entry
  • No one will get in unless they have an Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party ticket
  • Don’t bring glass into the arena. Put your drink in plastic
  • Pay bars and food outlets are located within the Street Party Arena (although will cost more than bringing your own)

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