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Edinburgh's Hogmanay

Bearing in mind the Scottish propensity for old-fashioned revelry, one would expect a few choruses of Auld Lang Syne on New Year's Eve. In this spirit Edinburgh hosts four days of festivities including processions, concerts and a world-famous street party.

Festivities get a kick start with the Torchlit Procession and Fire Festival on 30 December.

On Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) itself, the focal point of all festivities is Edinburgh's Hogmanay Street Party (admission by pass only), which attracts around 100,000 revellers. Artists appearing in 2011/12 include Mark Ronson, Friendly Fires, the Peatbog Faeries and Capercaillie. In the (always sold-out) Concert in the Gardens, down in Princes Street Gardens, this year's headliners Primal Scream are supported by Bombay Cycle Club and Sons & Daughters.

For those seeking a more sedate preamble into the New Year, there's a candlelight concert in the tranquil setting of St Giles Cathedral. If you're up and about on 1 January itself, you can choose your team - the Silver Eagle of the Uppies or the Red Stag of the Doonies - and compete in various games in the Grassmarket and around the top of the Royal Mile. Or take a dip in the Firth of Forth in the shadow of the Rail Bridge in the annual Loony Dook, raising money for the RNLI.

Scotland has celebrated New Year more enthusiastically than the rest of Britain since the 16th century, when the Reformation meant that the suspiciously Catholic-sounding festival of Christmas was more or less banned. The pre-Christian traditions associated with New Year celebrations were tolerated much more, which meant that Hogmanay soon became the country's main winter festival.

The solemn Calvinists of the Reformation period would probably be surprised to learn that they had inadvertently founded one of Europe's biggest parties. The present-day form of Edinburgh's Hogmanay extravaganza is much more recent, though; effectively founded in 1992, the civic festivities grew so much over the 1990s that more than half a million visitors now attend every year (with an extra day if you count the second Bank Holiday the Scots have on 2 January, simply to recover!).

Edinburgh's Hogmanay Information

When: Dec 2013 - Jan 2014 (annual)

Where: Edinburgh

Cost: Hogmanay Street Party £15; Concert in the Gardens £35; The Keilidh £35; other outdoor events free; Loony Dook £6 (registration)

Opening Hours:

Address: Edinburgh

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