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Why Edinburgh's Hogmanay Is The Best Place To Ring In The New Year!


Normally we spend New Years Eve like an old married couple, on the couch with champagne, watching the ball drop or fireworks over London's Eye on the TV. So we were delighted when Visit Scotland asked us to attend their New Years Eve, aka Hogmanay. 

We've always heard such good things about Hogmanay and they certainly were all true! There is so much tradition along with so many activities that truly makes you feel immersed in the culture. We're listed the top 5 reasons to celebrate New Years in Edinburgh, as well as where to eat and what to do while you're visiting this fabulous city!
5 reasons to celebrate New Years Eve in Edinburgh, Hogmanay

Side note: This trip is a paid partnership with Visit Scotland, thank you to VisitScotland for making sure their social media partnerships are LGBTQ+ inclusive. It’s great to see a tourism board acknowledging and embracing our wonderful community!

HOGMANAY: Pronounced Hog- Money

Hogmanay is what the Scot's call their New Years Eve, and it dates back to the Winter solstice with the Vikings holding parties in late December. The word is thought to come from Queen Mary of Scots. 
1. Torchlight Procession

whitney with torch at edinburgh torchlight procession

On 30th December,  we attended the renowned torch light procession and marched through Edinburgh’s Old Town alongside pipers, drummers and torch bearers, to the historic Holyrood Park. 
On reaching the Park, the torchbearers then formed the distinctive outline of Scotland and 14 wicker sculptures, each representing a region of Scotland, were set ablaze to mark the end of 2018.
The experience was truly incredible and like nothing either of us have ever seen, or been apart of. The atmosphere was buzzing and we loved how family friendly it was. It had a real community like feel from people all around the globe. 

whitney with torch at edinburgh torchlight procession
whitney with torch at edinburgh torchlight procession


2. Street Party on NYE
 

On New Years eve, we had the pleasure of interviewing DJ Trendy Wendy at her bar, The Street, to find out more about the LGBTQ+ scene in Edinburgh, ahead of her set at the street party. She's rubbed shoulders and worked with the likes of Sia, who she showed us pictures of Sia behind the bar making lemon drops. We later headed to the biggest party of the year in the heart of Edinburgh. The street party is hosted by Scottish whiskey Johnnie Walker. We saw DJ Trendy Wendy play an awesome set, with different acts popping up on stages throughout the street.


3. Garden Concert


We finished our NYE by watching Franz Ferdinand in Princes Street Gardens. We loved bringing in the New Year with a kiss and watching the fireworks over Edinburgh castle, followed by Franz Ferdinand singing Auld Lang Syne.


4. Loony Dook


The fun doesn't stop after NYE. On New Year’s Day,  we made our way to South Queensferry to watch the  Loony Dookers - an annual tradition to take a dip in the Firth of Forth. Those brave enough to brace the cold came in all sorts of fancy dress to run into the freezing water to raise money for charity. We unfortunately weren't brave enough to jump in, but we applaud all those who did. We actually ran in to one of our lovely followers, Catherine and her partner who had just jumped in dressed as bananas! The town is super cute and worth a little walk around afterwards.


5.  Scottish Concert


Later that day, we watched Scottish music band Capercaillie bring a traditional Scottish knees-up to McEwan Hall. The band invited guest musicians to join them and Hannah Fisher did a fantastic job!  It was a great way to kick off our 2019, and Megan had to stop herself from dancing and embarrassing Whitney (ha!)


HOW TO GET THERE:

lner train from london to edinburgh

Lots of people were flying in all over the world, and it's a short flight from the UK. We travelled via LNER from London's Kings Cross, beating all the traffic. We got to travel in First Class, enabling us to catch up on work on the way and enjoying a veggie New York deli sandwich and unlimited supplies of drinks (soft and alcoholic, though the service was reduced on the way due to the holiday period). If you're travelling for over 4 hours, then we highly recommend it.


WHERE TO EAT:

Paradise Palms:


Paradise Palms became our favourite place to eat due to their vegan/ vegetarian American diner inspired food by Lucky Pig. We loved it so much that we went there twice during our short stay! We also loved their own beer that came with a pineapple in the side; how very Wegan!
On the first night Megan tried their fried seitan 'chicken' and Whitney had a tofu po'boy, and we shared fries with dill pickle salt. Omg. It was so tasty! The second night Megan had their seitan and black bean meatballs, with gravy,  fries and cheese (sooo good) and Whitney tried their veggie burger. We would literally be there all the time if we could, and there were so many options still to try! Bonus: they are LGBTQ+ friendly.


Civerionos Slice


We spotted Civerinos Slice during our torch procession and when we were both craving pizza on our last night, we knew just the place to go! It refers to itself as the neighbourhood pizza bar and that definitely sums up the vibe. The pizza was absolutely delicious and we wished they delivered to Windsor!


Love Crumbs


We stumbled across this adorable coffee shop, Love Crumbs, that reminded us of Swedish vibes, and wished we could have stayed there all day. They do an awesome flat white with oat milk by the way! Their cakes look delish too.


We were recommended Hula Juice Cafe for some great veggie options but didn't have time to squeeze it in - next time!


Also couldn't resist taking a pic of these little Haggis hut, but we didn't get  chance to try it.  (Vegetarian options available!)


WHAT TO DO:

Besides Hogmanay, there is lots to see in Edinburgh. We managed to fit on quite a bit within our short stay and would love to return again to explore more (and especially during Christmas time as the decorations were amazing!)

Calton Hill

If you're after scenic views of Edinburgh, the Calton Hill is the place to be. It is a slight climb to the top with stairs, but it's so worth it. Warning: Hold onto your hats. It can be so windy, you literally feel like you're going to blow away!


Victoria Street


We absolutely adored this mystical street of charming multi-coloured buildings and Harry Potter-esque vibe. It was said to be the inspiration of J.K. Rowling's Diagon Alley and we can certainly see why. How magical do these photos look?


It's also super magical at night when the lights are still up.


Speaking of all things Harry Potter, you can visit the The Elephant House which claims to be the 'birthplace' of Harry Potter where J.K Rowling would sit to write her novels.


Edinburgh Castle


As we live less than a mile away from Windsor Castle, it takes a lot to impress us as far as castles go, but Edinburgh castle certainly did! I mean, it sits on top of a volcano! You can also certainly see how Edinburgh Castle inspired J.K Rowling's Hogwarts!


There is also a lovely view of Edinburgh city line as you walk up the mound towards the castle.


Leading from the castle is the Royal Mile that runs through the Old Town to the Queens residence in Edinburgh, the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Witchery is super cute vibes that you expect to see in Edinburgh we wanted to pop in for a drink but unfortunately they only serve food. We ended up having sampling local beers at Cannon Ball, where you can see a view of the castle from it's window. 


Christmas Market

As all the festive lights were still up in Edinburgh, it certainly made us want to go back at Christmas time. They also had a cute Christmas market, complete with a carousel.


LGBT Friendly? 


Edinburgh is super LGBTQ+ friendly and accepting of everyone! We had a chat with DJ Trendy Wendy, who co-owns The Street. There is the 'pink triangle' that connects the LGBT bars.

The Street has a great mix of the LGBTQ+ community as well as straight allies. They even held a cream tea for Mothers Day (with gin in tea pots, of course!) As well as a bar they also have a club downstairs, that Wendy says is more of a house party, dancing on the furniture, etc! They also have Queer Cabaret and you can find DJ Wendy on the decks.

Other LGBTQ+ bars:


Let us know if you visit Edinburgh and if you follow any of our recommendations!

Watch the vlog of our trip here:


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celebrating new years in edinburgh, scotland

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