City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Underbelly Introduce New Elements to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival 2017/2018


By Vivien Devlin - Posted on 18 July 2017

Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood, directors of Underbelly, unveil the Edinburgh's Hogmanay 2018 programme

On one of the sunniest, hottest day of the summer so far in Edinburgh, it seemed slightly incongruous to attend the media launch today at Mansfield Traquair for Edinburgh's Hogmanay 2017/2018.

Underbelly, which presents a programme of Edinburgh Fringe shows from the Cowgate to Bristo Square, and UK wide outdoor events, has been chosen as the new creative team to produce this New Year Festival, taking over the reins from longtime Hogmanay operators, Unique Events.

Underbelly is certainly starting their first year with a colourful spectacle and big bang: "a rebooted, re-energised, reinvented Festival".

Directors, Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood, have brought together a highly experienced creative team under Executive Producer, Martin Green. For five years he was Head of Events for London’s New Year, oversaw the 2012 Olympic Games celebrations, and is currently the director of Hull UK City of Culture, 2017.

An underlying theme is to take the New Year celebration back to its roots of Hogmanay parties at home, when revellers would tour around to “first foot” family and friends, with gifts of coal, shortbread and whisky. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2017/2018 will present an enormous “House Party” to bring local residents and international visitors together for a modern remix of the traditional Hogmanay.

Once again, it will be an exciting, colourful three-day Festival starting with the ever popular Torchlight Procession on 30 December. However, the thousands of people creating a river of light with their torches, will descend down the Royal Mile instead of the Mound, to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Queen's Park.

As 2018 is the Year of Young People, a special project will invite kids and young adults to select one universal word, the #ScotWord, to illustrate what Scotland means to them.

Another innovation in welcoming Festival-goers of all ages, is a special event, Bairns Afore, a Hogmanay party for families and children in Princes Street gardens for their own mini firework display at 6pm. Then the bairns can be packed off to bed before the adults can go out again and party.

Several years ago on 30 December there was the regular “Night Afore Fiesta” with a parade of street entertainers, musicians, stilt walkers and giant puppets along George Street. When this ended, it was sorely missed. However, this fiesta is back even bigger and better this year on 31st!

On Hogmanay, 31 December, the gates to the famous Street Party will open at the much earlier time of 7pm, extending the annual Hogmanay bash from four to six hours long. This will be a dramatic, refreshing, revamp to the usual event, with a Carnival of street theatre, acrobats, dancers and a spectacle of light and sound. Along and around Princes Street there will be three stages for a diverse range of music. There will also be a Ceilidh in the Gardens, and the annual Concert at the Ross Bandstand – further details will be announced soon.

At midnight, the Fireworks will be an impressive and extended display to bring in the New Year with sparkling light, fizz, crackle and pop to delight the crowd of 60,000 revellers, followed by a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

The festivities continue on 1st January when the brave or foolhardy can take a trip to South Queensferry to join in the traditional Loony Dook (or the Daft Dip) in the Firth of Forth and the New Year will continue in literary mode to celebrate Edinburgh's status as the first UNESCO City of Literature.

"Message from the Skies" is a literary project featuring a unique murder mystery by best selling crime writer, Val McDermid in collaboration with director, Philip Howard. Taking city residents and visitors on a journey around the city, Val's short story will be projected around the streets and landmark buildings each evening from the 1st to 25th January, Robert Burns’ birthday.

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2018 will mark the 25th anniversary of the first ever Princes Street Party, an event which gradually developed into a three day, world famous Winter festival. It is extraordinary to realise that it was Edinburgh which led the way to herald in the New Year with dazzling Fireworks from Edinburgh Castle. This later inspired London, Sydney and Hong Kong to light up their city skies at midnight.

Join in the party, the fun, fireworks, #Scotword, stories, songs and the fiesta spirit at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2018.

Say to the World: I WAS THERE

“…. this is not the end of a year,
but the beginning of a new.
We will clasp the hands of every stranger,
Because this belongs to all of us.
This is our New Year.
This is ‘the’ New Year.
We’ll leave as beacons, shining lights
That say to the world:
I - WAS - THERE.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay.
It’ll leave its mark.

More Edinburgh's Hogmanay coverage.