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,"
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
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