It’s no secret that New Year’s Eve is big news in Scotland, motherland of our December Gin of the Month, Arbikie AK's Gin. So if you fancy something a bit special to see in 2017, you could do worse than head NPRTH! Here are just a few options for some of the best ways to hoof it up this Hogmanay.
Hit the Streets
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations are world-famous, and definitely something everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime. Last year some 148,000 people from more than 70 countries joined in the three days of events and celebrations, which culminate in an enormous street party, complete with bands, DJs and fireworks against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.
This year’s Concert in the Gardens, headlined by Paolo Nutini, is already sold out, but at time of going to press, tickets were still available for the street party and Old Town Ceilidh.
And if you’re looking for an unusual way to clear out any New Year’s Day cobwebs, you can brave the Loony Dook, the annual mass, fancy-dress swimming session in the freezing cold water of the Firth of Forth, just outside Edinburgh at South Queensferry. Alternatively, you could just watch from the quayside with a nice hot cup of tea…
Get Fired Up
Fire plays a big part in traditional Scottish Hogmanay celebrations, many of which can be traced back to pagan or even Viking roots. There are numerous places you can head to on New Year’s Eve if you want to partake in a bit of ancient fire worship to help burn away the evil spirits for the year ahead.
One of Scotland’s most famous fire rituals is known as the Stonehaven Fireballs, which takes place around 40 minutes’ drive north from the Arbikie estate. As midnight strikes to announce the new year in the little town of Stonehaven, thousands gather to watch local people of all ages parade the streets, swinging flaming ‘fireballs’ – cages constructed from chicken wire and filled with flammable material. If attending, it’s advised to wear something you don’t mind getting a little singed! The parade is followed by fireworks and a party in the square until the small hours.
For a slightly less treacherous-sounding fiery NYE, head to the pretty village of Comrie, on the edge of the Highlands. The new year is welcomed in with a parade of ‘flambeux’ – huge torches made from birch poles and tarred rags – accompanied by a pipe band and locals in fancy dress. At the end of the ceremony, the torches are flung into the River Earn, ridding the village of evil spirits. The tradition of ‘first footing’ then begins, which sees dark-haired males bearing coal, shortbread or whisky welcomed as the first post-midnight visitor over people’s thresholds.
Make it Musical
Music is an important part of Scottish Hogmanay, with concerts and traditional ceilidhs taking place up and down the country. One of the most northerly takes place in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The An Lanntair arts centre’s third annual Hogmanay concert, Biladhna Mhath Ur! will feature a brass and string band and a selection of Island singers – including our very own Craft Gin Club Member (and former Ginstagram Prize runner-up!), Fiona Mackenzie.
If you think the Outer Hebrides are just a little too hard to get to, Glasgow’s Corinthian Club hosting a whole evening of celebrations including food, drinks and a traditional ceilidh, as well as more contemporary DJ sets to keep the dancing going in the wee hours. All set over the five floors of the club’s elegantly restored, Victorian building, this will definitely be an occasion to don your glad rags for.
Cavort in a Castle
If you fancy a taste of the high-life this New Year’s Eve, then Scotland is the place to be. Filled with beautiful castles, many of which have bene transformed into luxurious hotels, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to playing Laird or Lady of the manor.
The five-star Fonab Castle is offering in Pitlochry, Perthshire is offering a three-night dinner, bed and breakfast Hogmanay package which includes entrance to its glamorous Hogmanay Gala Ball. After being welcomed by the resident piper, get ready to be pampered to the max, from gourmet meals and Champagne on tap, to relaxing by the hotel pool - there’s even a New Year’s Day Gin and Whisky tasting to ease you into 2017 in style. With prices starting at £1,675 for the three-night package, this certainly isn’t a budget option, but it is sure to be a Hogmanay to remember.