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Review: Edinburgh

City/Town/Region/Island

Scotland, United Kingdom

Hogmanay, Whiskey and Keeping Awake!

  • By SilverTraveller Glynis-Sullivan

    13 reviews

    Ribbon

  • Dec 2011
  • Husband

61 people found this review helpful

I contacted friends who live in Scotland to ask what they where doing for Hogmanay – "well, we are usually in bed". So it doesn't follow that all the Scottish people are out in the streets with whiskey and a lump of coal!! We are on our way – no bed this year!



Edinburgh is synonomous for a really good New Years Eve Party in the Northern hemisphere. We had New Year in Sydney last year so what could Edinburgh offer. Well cold weather for a start, but what an atmosphere. We set off on the 29th December on the train from Sheffield, approximately a 4 hour journey, but booking our seats early was a bonus as the price is much cheaper if you book 12 weeks before, yes it used to be 8 weeks now 12. A good book and a coffee helped the journey pass very quickly.



Our hotel was on Princess Street, less than a 5 minute walk to get to the Mount Royal Hotel, tucked away nicely between M&S and Jenners – good for shopping, but the highlight is the wonderful view of the Edinburgh Castle from the dining room.



The hotel is a little 'tired', but comfortable the service and food are very good. Tip: if you want a Castle View book early, but if it was my choice, go for rooms at the back of the hotel as they are quieter. The traffic has stopped on Princess Street for the new tram system, but the preparation for Hogmanay starts early in the morning and often the Piper is playing his tune to raise money very early in the day. The following day, New Years Day the council comes again to clear away the barriers etc; from Princess Street. So be warned.



The town has a lovely feel to it, ice skating in the Princess Street gardens, market stalls selling crafts and the all important woolly hats. The big wheel and other fair ground activities are there to keep all ages and groups happy. Don't forget the whiskey trail and a visit to the Castle or Holyrood House are all part of the Scottish experience, and of course the obligatory Red Bus is the best way and most informative to get a really look and feel of the city.



The city boasts a wide variety of restaurants and caters for all tastes from Italian to Thai, Grassmarket below the Castle area has many restaurants and interesting bars, but if you want to try a Vegetarian experience search out the famous Henderson's restaurant and cafes. The cafe is at the end of Princess Street, turn left down Lothian Road and down steps behind the church, hidden away but worth the effort if you are in the area. The restaurant is 94 Hanover Street, a cultural hub with live music most evenings, opened in 1962 by Janet and Mac Henderson now celebrating 50 years, book early if you would like an interesting evening.



Fire Festival The Hogmanay celebrations start on the evening before New Years Eve with the Fire Festival. This is a torch light procession which starts from the Royal Mile at Parliament Square and down the hill to Princess Street and on to Carlton Hill, 10,000 people took part this year. It is an amazing site hoards of people just walking and taking photographs of each other with torches. People have finished before others have started. A wonderful spectacle. Get your torches by purchasing on line or during the day at the stand on the Royal Mile, all torches are 7 pounds.



New Years Eve The town is buzzing with people from all over the world, some going to the open air Ceilidh, some going to see one of the bands in the park or on the street area. Large screens ensure people see as much as possible. It is loud, brash and good fun. Well organised with lots of security, but be careful you have to be on Princess Street for 11pm or the security do not let you on to the designated areas. 80,000 people gathered this year to let in the New Year in Edinburgh. People hold hands to keep there friends near, like a long conga dance, so if you need to get through them it is very difficult, this celebration is not for the faint hearted, so be aware, but enjoy.



Midnight heralds the most fantastic firework display and this year lasted 6 minutes. The bonus of being in a hotel on Princess Street is that you can enjoy the dinner and dance nip up stairs to your room for your coat pop outside to see the fireworks, then pop back and carry on the dancing, wonderful the best of both world for more mature travellers, or just stay in the warmth and watch the fireworks with a wee dram!



Our friends who joined us and were wide awake, well one eye was, at midnight. holding a glass of whiskey toasting the New Year instead of being in bed!!!



Edinburgh does live up to its reputation and can stand tall in the New Year celebration stakes, and a place to visit for young and old alike.

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 2 Comment(s)

  • Glynis-Sullivan
    almost 7 years ago
    Remember if you do go to this wonderful city at Hogmanay, book early, wrap up warm it is very, very cold at midnight, It is quite an experience and a good way to see in the New Year.
  • ESW
    almost 7 years ago
    I'd never considered Edinburgh for Hogmany having always thought tit would be too full of people. The Fire Festival sounds marvellous and a real high light.