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Looking for the world’s biggest
New Year’s Eve party?
Head to Scotland!

by Cameron Wears, TravelingCanucks.com

When it comes to hosting an epic New Year’s Eve party, no city does it better than Edinburgh, Scotland.

The legendary Hogmanay Street Party attracts close to 100, 000 revellers from across the globe each year, and it’s often called the “world’s largest winter street party.” That alone was enough to peak our curiosity, but when our friend from Edinburgh compared the four-day festival to Brazil’s famous Rio Carnival, we were excited to experience the Scottish celebrations firsthand.

Scotland’s Hogmanay traditions date back hundreds of years, when it was originally celebrated as the pagan winter solstice. Although the Hogmanay Street Party is the main event, there is much more to this Scottish tradition than live outdoor concerts, colourful fireworks and cheerful dancing in the streets.

The Viking-inspired Torchlight Procession is a visually dazzling parade that opens the Hogmanay festivities on the evening of December 30, and it’s not to be missed. Hundreds of torch carriers march to the beat of a drum, starting at Parliament Square in the heart of Edinburgh’s historical Old Town and finishing at Calton Hill.

That night, the Gothic city centre of Edinburgh is transformed into an amusement park with several rides, games and a giant ferris wheel that overlooks a popular outdoor ice skating rink. The days that follow are filled with outdoor concerts and performances, festive markets and entertaining events.

The Hogmanay Street Party kicks off on Princes Street at 9:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. We joined our Scottish hosts and braved the sub zero temperatures, wrapped in several layers of winter clothing, puffy jackets and fleece toques, for what was to be a party of a lifetime.

The entire city becomes the venue. Bagpipe music drones while crowds of Scotsmen — proudly wearing kilts or extravagant costumes — sing out of tune and enthusiastically wave Scottish flags while recklessly gulping tall cans of Tennents’ lager, with no thought of tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a variety of musical acts perform on multiple stages, broadcast on giant screens. As the night progresses, crowds of party-goers continue to converge in the city centre along Princes Street. The climax of the street party begins when the bells of Big Ben ring at midnight, signalling the start of a spectacular fireworks display above Edinburgh Castle and Calton Hill.

After the clock strikes midnight, the jovial crowds burst into song, singing Robert Burns’ classic New Year’s Eve song, Auld Lang Syne. People dance, hug and kiss random strangers — it’s the perfect way to celebrate the start of the new year.

Not only did it live up to its hype, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has become one of our most memorable New Year’s celebrations.

THIS POST IS PART OF SPECIAL T+E HOLIDAY SERIES EXPLORING NEW YEAR’S EVE CUSTOMS, CULTURES AND TRADITIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD. BE SURE TO CHECK BACK DAILY!

AND! TUNE IN TO T+E CHANNEL ON DEC. 31ST AS WE COUNT DOWN TO 2012 WITH SPECIAL PROGRAMMING TAKING YOU ON A WORLDWIDE NEW YEAR’S EVE TOUR, EVERY HOUR ON THE HOUR STARTING AT 7 AM ET/4 AM PT. HERE’S A PREVIEW!

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