Celebrate New Year’s Eve into the wee hours – at Scotland’s Hogmanay Street Festival

New Year’s Eve often plays little brother during the festive season.

There’s no tree to decorate, presents to unwrap, or turkey’s to baste. Plans can often end up as afterthoughts to the tinseled, fairy-lit, wrapped and candy caned extravaganza that is Christmas.

But New Year’s Eve gives us the opportunity to hit the reset button, have a fresh beginning and pursue a new dream.

Let it be little brother no more – give it some love and book a trip to Scotland for the epic three-day Hogmanay Street Festival in Edinburgh, embrace the whole magical festive season, and start the New Year the way you mean to finish it.

Hogmanay in a wee nutshell

In early 2014, Bear Grylls compiled a list of the top 25 travel experiences in the world. Among seeing natural wonders such as the Northern Lights, diving at our very own Great Barrier Reef and witnessing ancient landmarks such as the Pyramids in Egypt, was the Hogmanay New Year’s Festival.

30 December

It all starts on Tuesday 30 December with the Big Wheel (a giant Ferris wheel) and the Star Flyer running from 10 a.m. in the city centre. This is also when the St. Andrew Square Christmas Gardens open their gates, welcoming visitors to take a tour on the ice rink, a ride on the carousel, a peruse through the markets or a seat at a show at the Spiegeltent.

The torchlight procession is a major part of the festivities, starting on the George IV Bridge at 7 p.m. and wandering through the central streets for just over an hour to arrive at Waterloo Place & Calton Hill. Last year, the event attracted a sold-out crowd of 35,000 people who enjoyed the sound of pipe bands and witnessed the epic fireworks show finale to officially open the Hogmanay Festival.

31 December

The event really heats up (despite the Scottish winter weather) on 31 December. The Big Wheel and Christmas Gardens will be open again for most of the day and well into the night, and a mesmerising candlelit concert at St. Giles’ Cathedral will keep you entertained in the countdown to midnight in the evening.

The massive Hogmanay street party kicks off at 7 p.m., which includes the ‘Hot Dub Time Machine’, a party in which the DJ plays bangers (think Macarena) from every year between 1954 and 2014 to keep you dancing.

It’s not New Year’s without fireworks, so keep an eye out for those shooting off Edinburgh Castle. Then join hands and take part in the world’s biggest rendition of the classic New Year tune Auld Lang Syne – just don’t forget to learn the words!

1 January

On the first day of the year, wake yourself up with a refreshing dip in the River Forth under the Forth Rail Bridge at South Queensferry. Take part by starting in the Loony Dook parade through the High Street before arriving at the wharf and jumping in.

Alternatively, of course, you can simply line up and watch as thousands of loons take the freezing plunge!

In the afternoon, from 1-4.30 p.m., take part in the “Scot:Lands” culture crawl through Edinburgh’s Old Town. Last year was its inaugural year, and the event was so popular they’ve already begun registrations for the 2015 event. An incredible 11 locations across the city will open up with musicians and artists creating scenes and attractions for visitors. It could be puppetry, music, art, games, or something else.

2 January

The festival warms down on 2 January, with the final day of the Big Wheel and gardens, and a rousing match of hotly contested rugby between rival cities Edinburgh and Glasgow at Murrayfield Stadium.

So let Christmas keep its tinsel as New Year’s claims the Hogmanay Street Festival to bring in a New Year full of hope and festivity.

Before kicking off the festivities, remember to think about any travel insurance you may need – check out Virgin Travel Insurance while you’re at it – and make this New Year’s one to remember.

What’s your favourite thing about the Hogmanay Festival?