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Photo of New Year Revellers on Princes Street Edinburgh
New Year revellers on Princes Street, Edinburgh

 

 

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Bringing in the bells!

Hogmanay is a party quite unlike any other and the biggest party of them all will be in Edinburgh where thousands of people will throng the streets to welcome the New Year.

Edinburgh's Hogmanay is the biggest New Year party held anywhere in the world and with four days packed with festive activities of all shapes and forms you might need the rest of the year to recover!

This year's festival will see all the usual favourites like the Street Party, the Concert in the Gardens and the Torchlight Procession but as always the organisers have added new events to the programme to ensure a great time is had by all.

The eyes of the world will be on Edinburgh as the clock strikes midnight to herald 2004 and one of the new and most exciting features of the celebrations as revellers throughout the city join hands for the biggest ever rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

It is hoped television pictures of partygoers linking arms to sing Robert Burns stirring song of friendship will help make the mass rendition of Auld Lang Syne a prominent and important part of the celebrations in future years.

The striking of the bells is not just the signal for a singalong however as the stroke of midnight also marks the start of the spectacular Seven Hills Fireworks with a dazzling display firing off from locations around the city to light up the night sky.

Launching Edinburgh's Hogmanay the city's Deputy Lord Provost Steve Cardownie said, "Once again, the Royal Bank Street Party and Hogmanay promises to be the party of all parties. This winter festival is undoubtedly in a league of it's own. From the Hogmanay and Christmas celebrations to the summer festivals, Edinburgh really is the city to be at all times of year.

"Edinburgh is quite rightly in the spotlight at New Year; every year we really show the world how to celebrate. One hundred thousand revellers joining hands and singing Auld Lang Syne really should be some sight for the whole world to behold and enjoy," he added.

Edinburgh's Hogmanay has a truly international flavour this year with a celebration of the links between Scotland and India at The Night Afore International in the New Town, which will be transformed into a huge Indian themed party on 30 December.

The highlight will be the dramatic street theatre production Runga Rung The Colour of Colours, a dynamic fusion of British urban life, contemporary British Asian culture, Indian traditions, carnival and fiesta. It features a procession of characters including a life sized steel elephant and culminates in a colourful human Catherine Wheel and pyrotechnics.

Scotland will also be celebrated in traditional fashion at The Night Afore International with Scottish dancing at the ceilidh stage and the Portobello Ceilidh Band calling the steps for the world's largest Scottish Country Dance, an Orkney Strip the Willow.

Hogmanay itself will see top pop group Erasure headline the popular Concert in the Gardens, which will be the group's only performance of the glittering disco anthems from their greatest hits album. Merseyside group The Coral will be the support act.

The Street Party will see Princes Street packed with partygoers who will be entertained with music from two different stages with top DJs getting things going in East Princes Street Gardens and top Scottish bands bringing a ceilidh to life on the Celtic Stage by Waverley Bridge.

After all that partying there is no time to catch your breath as the festival continues on New Year's Day with Parklife in Holyrood Park that offers a whole range of free family fun events, urban sports and have a go activities to refresh the body and spirit.

Continuing the international flavour the centenary of the Entente Cordiale will be celebrated by the appearance of French street theatre company Picto Facto at Parklife and visitors can also try their hand at the French sport of petanque (boules).

If you fancy blowing off the cobwebs you can join the One O' Clock Run, a gentle mile long fun run started by the famous Edinburgh One O' Clock Gun which takes runners down the Royal Mile, through the grounds of Holyrood Palace to the finishing line in the Royal Park.

The truly energetic will be taking part in the annual Edinburgh Bicycle Triathlon with a 400 metre swim, 11 mile cycle and 3.5 mile run around Arthur's Seat - although cheering on the competitors might be more than enough exertion for most!

New Year's Day also sees the return of the New Year Conversation with award winning Scottish authors William Dalrymple and Alexander McCall Smith talking about the year gone by and looking forward to the coming year.

Before all this fun and festivity can start however the festival will begin with the annual Torchlight Procession and Fire Festival on 29 December when the Jarl Squad from Shetland's Up Helly Aa festival will lead an expected 12,000 strong crowd from Parliament Square to Carlton Hill.

With all this to look forward to and more Edinburgh's Hogmanay promises a bright start to the New Year.

For full programme details and ticket arrangements visit www.edinburghshogmanay.org

     
     
     
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