Experiencing Hogmanay: Welcoming the New Year in Scotland

If NYE is your favourite holiday of the year, then we suggest you head up to Scotland where the celebrations are like no other! Hogmanay, the Scottish new year is a loud and lively time of year with a buzzing atmosphere and nearly a week's worth of celebrations. A combination of booze, buzz and most importantly, traditions, is the holiday the Scots most look forward to. Here’s how to experience the best of Hogmanay!

The History of Hogmanay 🎇

The history of this festive season is what has shaped today's attitudes and culture when it comes to Hogmanay and how it is celebrated.
In 1640, during the Protestant reformation, a law was passed that made celebrating Christmas illegal in Scotland. This law remained for 400 years after its passing. Therefore, as a result of the lack of celebration in the country, the Scots needed another holiday to satisfy their need for festivities. This is where Hogmanay came into play!
Hogmanay is the equivalent of St Patrick’s day in Ireland. Unique to the nation and celebrated by more or less everyone who lives there! The Scots have embraced their special holiday, taking the time to come together, enjoy themselves and be brave in the traditions that once defined Hogmanay - as celebrated by their ancestors!

Hogmanay Traditions 🎊

Traditions have changed over the years but all hold importance to different Scots across the lush forest and loch-covered land. Here are some top traditions in the build-up to the holiday:
Preparing for the new year 🧹:  tradition shows that before celebrations can begin, you have to end the old one well. Cleaning the house from top to bottom has long been a New Year’s Eve ritual. It dates back to its origins when the focus was on sweeping the fireplace to rid the home of unwanted burdens.

First- footing 👣: dating back to the 8th and 9th centuries and is considered to be one of the most widely practised traditions is the first footing. The “first foot”, can bring luck – or misfortune – for the year ahead. In Scottish tradition, good luck comes in the form of a tall, dark-haired man being the first footer.

Welcome the new year with Auld Lang Syne 🎶: when the clock strikes twelve, get ready to put your best singing voice on! Throughout the towns and cities of Scotland, the tune of Auld Lang Syne rings out - a song by Robert Burns that a number of other nations have adopted and joined in with! When you arrive at the last verse, place your arms crossed over your chest with your hands holding onto a neighbour and don’t break the link!

Hogmanay In Edinburgh 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🍾🏰

Edinburgh is the place to be if you’re planning a trip to Scotland over NY. The nation's capital has everything and more to make your celebrations fun, festive and everything you could ask for when on a mini break. From gorgeous boutique air bnbs to swanky hotels. A ten-tonne of restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars for you and your family, friends or significant other to work your way through eating and drinking traditional delicacies such as; deep-fried mars bars, haggis, empire biscuits, macaroni pies, Irn Bru and Malt Whiskey.
Thousands of visitors each year head to Edinburgh making it their number-one spot to ring in the new year. The record attendance was set in the mid-1990s when more than 300,000 revellers took to the city centre for the free-for-all street party. Huge amounts of planning, prepping and set-up go into making the city Hogmanay ready!
Celebrations start properly in the city on the day before - the 30th. The city is illuminated with reels of lights and lots of flames from the torches carried by the locals through the streets.
The main event on the 31st sees thousands of visitors fill the cobble-lined streets ready to welcome a year of new achievements, adventures and most important resolutions. An array of colourful tartan-wearing men sipping on an old-age whiskey and their wives and families make their way to Princes St to dance and celebrate. Finally, the new year is welcomed with a fabulous firework display over the famous Edinburgh Castle as the clock chimes twelve and the cheers and lyrics of Auld Lang Syne echo through the towns of Scotland.

The Day After NYE 🤿

What better way to cure a Hogmanay hangover than to jump into the icy cold waters of the South Queensferry, beneath the iconic Forth Rail Bridge? This tradition is called the Loony Dook - it sees the continuing partygoers and daredevils take a splash into the water to liven themselves up for yet another day of drinking and partying!

How To Travel Around Edinburgh During Hogmanay 🚍

With thousands of visitors heading to Edinburgh, you know that the roads are guaranteed to be busy! There are a number of buses, including late-night buses that can be taken around the city as well as the Edinburgh trams which can connect you from Princes Street to the airport.

Hogmanay In Other Places 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🎊🍾🎇

Edinburgh is not the only place where this holiday can be celebrated. In fact, the majority of the nation comes alive over this period with different traditions and festivities taking place everywhere. Next on the list in regards to Hogmanay rankings is Glasgow, with a number of parties, pub crawls and dancing just as loud and buzzy as that in Edinburgh.
Likewise, Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth and Inverness offer similar street-party affairs, with bands, DJs, ceilidhs and messily sung countdowns to the 12 o’clock bells.

Starting from Skratch? Here are some links to help you get started:



If you want to read more on festivals, celebrations and holidays, check out our Festivals Series

Scotland - Facts Before You Go


🗣English/Scottish Gaelic/ Doric Dialect


💰 Pound Sterling



Known for

🏰 Castles

🥤 Irn Bru

🌅 Lochs

🌲 Forests

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Imogen Kemp
August 30, 2023

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