After the explosive opening to 2018 of the fireworks display above Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh's Hogmanay continues with a specially commissioned story writ large in light on Edinburgh buildings.
Edinburgh kicked off the New Year with a nine-minute fireworks display above Edinburgh Castle. The “Midnight Moment” was choreographed to a specially commissioned soundscape created by Skye band Niteworks and sound designer and film composer Dan Jones in collaboration with fireworks experts Titanium.
A full capacity crowd of 75,000 were regaled by a huge range of fireworks including brand new ones called planets which have fizzy sherbet middles, while a drum solo in the middle was choreographed to showers of pink and gold arrows ricocheting into the night sky.
Concert in the Gardens headliner Rag’n’Bone Man led a rousing rendition of the traditional Auld Lang Syne.
In previous years high winds have forced the organisers to cancel the Hogmanay street party at the last minute. There were similar fears this year when Princes Street was temporarily closed to pedestrians earlier in the day after a part of a stage was blown over.
However, by evening, the wind and, with it, the fears that Storm Dylan would disrupt the Hogmanay celebrations had subsided, much to the relief of debut Hogmanay directors Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam of Underbelly.
Highlights of the Hogmanay Street Party included a Princes Street drum-off with Divas and Districts Pipes and Bands, and LED drummers Spark!. There were parkour runners on the new ribboned stages and aerialists dancing on the sides of buildings.
The KLF’s What Time is Love played across the Street Party arena, the first time in over 20 years it has been heard and played, after organisers received special permission from The KLF themselves.
There were three stages of music in the Street Party arena: Sacred Paws, a lively dance set from Niteworks and Human League, drew a big crowd to the Waverley Stage; Barns Courtney, Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 and Treacherous Orchestra took to the East End Stage, while the Mac Twins and Huey Morgan got the crowd jumping at the new Castle Street DJ pod.
Chief Superintendent Kenny Macdonald, Divisional Commander for Edinburgh said: "It is very pleasing to note that the Street Party passed with no major incidents and only 4 arrests were made for minor disorder offences.”
"In addition to uniformed officers, specialist resources, including armed officers were present on the evening. This was purely as a precaution, but I think it provided the public with a sense of reassurance while they enjoyed the festivities," he said.
Free buses and trams helped get revellers home safely.
Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam described themselves as “tired and happy” at the end of the night.
Underbelly tweaks formula
The three-day Hogmanay festival followed a similar plan to previous Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festivals established by former director Pete Irvine and Unique Events.
Where in previous years there have been Hogmanay ceilidhs in the Assembly Rooms and the Old Town this year there was a Ceilidh under the Castle with Edinburgh Gin in West Princes Street Garden.
Wood and Bartlam said they were “particularly proud” of the first Bairns Afore event which introduced a family-friendly street party hours before the more rowdy street party itself.
“It was quite magical to see families looking up and enjoying their very own midnight moment together and at 6pm in the evening!”
The main New Year’s event remains the Loony Dook, where 1,100 ‘Dookers’ in fancy dress launched themselves into the chilly waters of the Firth of Forth in South Queensferry.
Message From the Skies
Instead of a 1st January cultural crawl around select venues of previous years, Underbelly have commissioned crime writer Val McDermid to write a short story that will be told through projections onto buildings and landmarks around Edinburgh.
“Message from the Skies” is described as “a nod to Robert Burns’s poem Sketch New Year’s Day”. McDermid has joined with dramaturg, Philip Howard of Pearlfisher, Edinburgh-based projection company Double Take Projections, as well as Scots soundscape artists, to create the story project where audiences are led on a trail around Edinburgh.
Walking from location to location, people can read the story in different languages with an accompanying app. “Message from the Skies” runs each day until Burns Night (25 January) from dusk (5pm) until 10pm.