03 Feb Edinburgh Hogmanay Festival 2014
Listed as number 3 on the top New Years celebrations in the WORLD, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival this year certainly delivered up my to expectations! The city was alive from the moment we entered, and I instantly fell in love with Edinburgh at first sight.
While my situation wasn’t exactly ideal, as my baggage had been lost, then upon arriving we found out that our hostel had missed our reservation, Edinburgh didn’t welcome us with open arms. However once everything was sorted, our crazy new years week began. From day 1, the Scottish never failed to surprise me with their kindness and generosity, always willing up for a chat or happy to give advice and recommendations… You can expect to be welcomed with whisky shots, I guess it’s their way of bonding?
So what is Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and why is it so special?
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is listed on the Top 10 things to do before you die along with lining up as number three in the top New Years celebrations… IN THE WORLD!
For me, I went to Hogmanay after hearing briefly about, with no idea what to expect. As the months went on, more people told me “Ohh Hogmanay is amazing I went (insert year)” and yes, I can honestly say that Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival so far has been the best new years of my life! It was such a great experience with the lead up of events and there was such a wonderful, buzzing atmosphere throughout the entire city.
Torch Light Procession
On the night before New Years Eve, Edinburgh is lit up by the Torch Light Procession.
This was truly a sight like no other, where a parade of flames journey through the entire city. Starting off with a bagpipe procession, followed by crowds of over 35,000 people, each with a torch light in hand *beware of the flames, because they are real* the night is then topped off with fireworks!
Hogmanay Street Party
Next up on New Years Eve the city comes to life with the famous Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party. With five outdoor stages bringing you an array of music to suit your taste, Hogmanay is filled with happy people dancing in the street. Lined with Christmas markets still standing and a Carnival situated in the city centre, you can dance, drink, ride or do whatever you please. Never have I seen so many happy and carefree faces! Even though there were a lot of people, everyone was so friendly and happy to celebrate! Don’t worry about the cold, because a mix of body heat and alcohol solve that problem!
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party is a BYO (bring your own) alcohol festival! Edinburgh allows you to drink in the streets as long as it’s in a plastic bottle. It will take you back to those grade 10 days ‘casually drinking’ from a lemonade bottle, with something a little stronger than lemonade in it… Sorry Mum.
The Big Wheel & Christmas Gardens
The big wheel and Christmas gardens offer a range of food, drinks and trinkets. Spend your afternoon exploring these gorgeous gardens or jump on a ride for an adrenalin rush!
New Years Day The Loony Dook Swim
If you’re game enough to jump in ice cold water to shake off that hangover, then head to the Loony Dook Swim! Thousands of people flock to Edinburgh’s bay to raise money for charity. Brr.
Tips to know about Edinburgh:
This city is expensive! Upon arriving, I chat with some locals and they explained to me that being a city famous for its banking, it raises prices, making it almost as expensive as London! Crazy.
The level of awareness in Edinburgh is very high for gluten free food. I often ate at pubs with staff always double checking if what I ordered was gluten free for me, being very thorough and kind about it. Some of the meals included typical bangers and mash, stuffed chicken and nachos, that I ordered during my stay in Edinburgh.
The Beehive Inn, Grassmarket has great traditional food and a nice cosy atmosphere. Meals are around 10£.
In my hostel they open the bar upstairs for breakfast, I got a typical english breakfast without the bread and they were happy to give me something extra instead! So lovely.
Beer and Cider are cheap around 3£
Check out The Three Sisters Bar for a drink or three! Fun atmosphere without outdoor and indoor area.
For a hostel you’re looking at minimum 25£ for a bed going up to 45£ on NYE. We stayed at Kick Ass Hostel which I highly recommend!
The best zones/streets?
Head to The Royal Mile and Grassmarket for a big selection of pubs to drink at in Old Town. New Town also has some pubs on Rose Street however they are generally more expensive. Shopping can be found all along Princes Street with stores like Urban Outfitters, Primark, H&M and more.
Most flights from Europe to Edinburgh require a transfer in London. As Edinburgh is so far north you will find prices to be between 100-200€ one way depending on where you are coming from.
Take the tram or airport bus to and from the city to the airport. While you are there you can walk everywhere in the city as it is tiny!
Tescos and Marcs & Spencer offer a range of gluten free food perfect if you don’t want to go out for lunch or dinner.
How far in advanced should you book?
We booked our tickets about 3 months in advanced. The street party festival ticket is enough and each year as the festival becomes more popular the tickets will go faster, so when you decide to go, it is probably best to book tickets straight away. As for accommodation, over this time the price really goes up so try and book this early so you can find a nice hostel.
Thank you to International Student Exchange Cards Inc!
Last year I was chosen as the lucky winner of a free round trip on any continent of my choice through ISE Cards! I chose to use my flight prize to go from Italy to Scotland, enabling me to organise my trip to Edinburgh. A big thank you to ISE Cards for this wonderful adventure!
Over this past year that I have been travelling, I have really benefitted from using my ISE Card for student discounts, whilst being eligible to recieve their partnership benefits for companies such as Busabout, Eastern Trekker and entrance to the Eiffel Tower, London Tower and more!
If you’re under 26 and looking at travelling internationally contact ISE Cards for a International Student Card now. They can help you organise your flights with tons of great discounts recognised and offered worldwide!