Hogmanay Festival Opens With Record Turnout For Torchlight Procession

Submitted by edg on Sat, 31 Dec '11 7.41am

"A river of fire" created by thousands of torch-bearers lit up the Scottish capital's Old Town and New Town at the start of the three-day Edinburgh's Hogmanay festival celebrations last night.

Organisers reported that a record crowd, estimated at between 27,000 and 30,000, including 6,500 torch carriers, joined the Up Helly Aa’ Vikings from Shetland and 5 pipe bands on Edinburgh's annual Torchlight Procession from St Giles Cathedral to a dramatic fireworks display above the acropolis on Calton Hill.

The "Son et Lumière" included a bonfire and burning of an effigy representing this year’s Hogmanay theme of "Let’s Play".

Organisers said that there were record pre-sales of torches this year, and 6,500 torches - the largest number ever - were all sold out before the start of the procession. Proceeds from the torch sales, which cost £6 in advance, go to Radio Forth Cash for Kids and Barnardo’s Scotland.

Lord Provost George Grubb said in his opening speech “I can't think of a better place in the world than Edinburgh to “see in” the New Year. Our world famous celebrations are broadcast across the globe, and last year the ‘midnight moment’ of fireworks over the castle was shown in over 150 countries. I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all participants in this year's Torchlight Procession and especially to those who are visiting the city for Hogmanay.”

Pete Irvine, Artistic Director of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay said “It’s great to start the three days of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay with such a fantastic crowd for the Torchlight Procession. We like to think that Edinburgh’s Hogmanay puts Edinburgh once again in the centre of the world map, and that the experiences that you will enjoy here are because you are in a beautiful city and in the best possible company – the famously friendly Scots.”

Celebrations continue tonight with the Hogmanay Street Party (pictured above at midnight).

Some of the 80,000 tickets are still available at the official box office, The Fringe Office, which is open until 9.00pm. Tickets cost £15.00 plus £1.50 booking fee.

This year's Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations will be webcast live between 11.30pm and 12.30am.

Tickets for Concert in the Gardens, The Keilidh and The Candlelit Concert at St Giles’ Cathedral are all sold out.

The Loony Dook on Sunday 1st January at South Queensferry is also sold out, but spectators are welcome, and the New Year Games, which will be taking place at venues across the Old Town from 2.00pm on Sunday 1st, are free and unticketed.