Edinburgh Hogmanay Festival 2018

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2018 is better than ever before with new events, including the family friendly Bairns Afore and a new look ceilidh at the foot of the city’s iconic castle, an extended fireworks display which will rival any other city in the world this New Year, and a revamped and animated Street Party that keeps the celebration going all evening.

The three-day festival opens on December 30 with the stunning traditional Torchlight Procession which this year blazes a new path seeing the river of light weave its way through the historic heart of the city around Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament before culminating in a stunning visual moment in Holyrood Park: #ScotWord project. [Short film here.]

Marking the start of Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will celebrate Scotland’s young citizens at the Torchlight Procession and give them the limelight on a Scottish and global stage. A Scotland wide engagement campaign co-designed and led by young people will seek to reach their peers in Scotland between the ages of 8 and 26 over the autumn/winter period this year in a quest to find #ScotWord. This one word will form the fiery finale of the popular Torchlight Procession on December 30 sharing with the world the answer of Scotland’s young people to the question “What makes you most proud to live in Scotland?”. Underbelly is working with Young Scot, the Scottish Government and EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate to realise the project. Young Scottish singer and songwriter Nina Nesbitt leads the engagement campaign. [Short film of Nina here]

On December 31, local and visiting families have the opportunity to celebrate New Year together in West Princes Street Gardens at Bairns Afore. The family friendly celebration includes an hour of entertainment and culminates in its very own ‘midnight’ fireworks moment… at 6pm, allowing families to take their children home to bed before the late night reveling gets underway.

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay renews its partnership with One City Trust, donating 50 pence from every ticket sold for the Torchlight Procession to the Trust as the Torchlight Procession Charity Partner for 2017. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will also make 300 free tickets for Bairns Afore available to the Trust to maximize the opportunity for young people around Edinburgh to get involved and celebrate Hogmanay. One City Trust is dedicated to fighting inequality and exclusion in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh’s Street Party is the only night long celebration that makes that midnight moment last with a 6 hour street party bringing the spirit of carnival and animating the length and breadth of the Princes Street arena in a hugely revamped program for one of the world’s great parties.

From the moment the doors open at 7pm, till after the midnight bells have fallen silent, bands and DJs on stages, street performers and dancers, acrobats, disco divas and fire eaters will all combine to make it the party of a lifetime. Every great party needs a host and we’re delighted that the 2018 Street Party will be hosted by Sanjeev Kohli (Still Game, BBC). [Film of Sanjeev here.] Scotland’s own Struan Leslie joins the creative team as director of the Street Party bringing his extensive experience across TV and stage productions.


Ringing in the New Year, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay sees the longest, biggest and best fireworks display for years - set to music and once again launched from Edinburgh Castle.


Underbelly is engaging an internationally renowned creative team of sound, light, audio visual and production designers to produce celebrations on the 31st of December. The team is led by Martin Green, one of the UK's leading live event producers, Head of Ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and currently the CEO and Director of Hull UK City of Culture 2017. [Martin Green film here]


Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festival doesn’t stop when the bells finish ringing. On Monday 1 January 2018, the brave, the foolhardy and the generous dive into the chilly Firth of Forth for the Loony Dook, raising money for a huge range of charities in the process.


As dusk falls on 1 January, Edinburgh, the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, celebrates its rich literary heritage and that of Scotland with projections across buildings and landmarks across the city. In a nod to Robert Burns’s poem Sketch New Year’s Day, Message from the Skies sees literary star Val McDermid join with dramaturg, Philip Howard of Pearlfisher, Edinburgh based projection company Double Take Projections and some of Scotland’s best soundscape artists to create and write a new short story which will lead audiences on a trail around Edinburgh. Message from the Skies runs until 25 January 2018 in a celebration of the Bard’s day too. Message from the Skies is a joint commission by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and Edinburgh International Book Festival and is developed in partnership with Edinburgh City of Literature and is supported by Creative Scotland through the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals EXPO fund.


Edinburgh is the world’s festival city with internationally renowned festivals year-round and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay kicks them off at the beginning of every year.

Underbelly was awarded the contract by City of Edinburgh Council to produce Edinburgh’s Hogmanay this spring and 2018 will see the first event under its direction. Underbelly was born out of Edinburgh, at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2000, and is known in Edinburgh already for its purple cow shaped Fringe presence and a successful 4 years of Edinburgh’s Christmas. Underbelly produces major outdoor events across the world including West End Live and Pride in London, the 2nd largest annual event in London other than the Marathon and which sees over 1 million people create a massive party atmosphere in London.

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2018 is supported by City of Edinburgh Council, Scottish Government through the Edinburgh Festival’s Expo Fund, EventScotland International Events Programme and Scotland’s Winter Festivals Fund and the Year of Young People 2018 Events fund, all working together to create a bold new Hogmanay for Scotland.






Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, directors of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, said: “We are humbled and thrilled to be delivering a new programme for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay in 2018. Edinburgh can claim to be the home of New Year festivals and we will work hard to ensure that the programme delivers something fresh and exciting every year to keep residents, UK visitors and international tourists flocking to this world famous Festival City through the winter months.


"From the new culmination of the Torchlight Procession with Scotland’s young people’s chosen word being created in blazing torches to the extended midnight fireworks, the new Bairns Afore for families, the re-booted Street Party carnival and the almost month long project Message from the Skies illuminating the city’s dark January nights, we are confident that Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2018 will offer lots of ways for people to enjoy this Must Do globally famous event.


“We’re proud to be working with some very talented people on Hogmanay including one of Scotland’s finest writers Val McDermid, executive producer Martin Green and our Street Party director Struan Leslie, our young ambassador Nina Nesbitt, and the very entertaining Hogmanay Host Sanjeev Kohli as well as organisations including the Edinburgh International Book Festival, One City Trust, Young Scot and our partners City of Edinburgh Council, the Scottish Government, EventScotland and Creative Scotland. 


"There is of course more to announce including the bands and musicians who will take to the stages on 31 December to entertain us, but tickets are now available so book yourself into the place to be this Hogmanay and look forward to saying 'I Was There'."


Minister for Winter Festivals and Burns Night Alasdair Allan, said: “Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is a cornerstone event in the Winter Festivals and a brand leader in New Year celebrations around the world, showcasing all the many facets of Scotland’s rich and vibrant culture. I am pleased that the Scottish Government has provided £200,000 through our EXPO Fund to support ‘Message from the Skies’, new outdoor extravaganza that will be launched on 1 January as part of this year’s Hogmanay.”

“Hogmanay hugely contributes to promoting Scotland as a fantastic visitor destination, a host of the world’s major events and a dynamic country rich in culture and creativity. Most importantly, it enhances Scotland’s reputation as a place where everyone is assured a warm welcome, whether they are visiting the country, are here for business or to study, or have chosen to live and work here.”


Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “One of the annual highlights of Edinburgh’s event calendar and one which enhances Scotland’s reputation as the perfect stage for events, this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations will herald the start of Scotland’s 2018 Year of Young People and showcase a variety of brand new elements designed to appeal to a range of audiences.”

“We are delighted to be supporting Underbelly with their exciting and ambitious plans for Edinburgh’s 25th Hogmanay celebrations. There are many places in the world to spend New Year, but few can match the uniquely authentic cultural experience which Scotland offers to thousands of visitors and locals alike each year.”


Martin Green, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Executive Producer said: “It’s an honour to play part in the production of this year’s Hogmanay celebrations. One of the greatest events in the world, it is exciting to work with the team to ensure it maintains its place as a must-go global event.”


Struan Leslie, Street Party Director said: “I am excited to be directing the Street Party at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2018. It is a great opportunity to bring together all the elements of a traditional Hogmanay and remix and chop them about to create whole evening of twists and surprises to welcome everyone to 'our house'. Building on the success of the last 24 years of celebrations will be like First Footing the whole city, as Edinburgh welcomes the world to 2018, in a party starting at 7pm and finishing at 1am.

“To realize all this, and other secret surprises, I am delighted to be collaborating with an amazing team of international and Scottish artists who will each bring world renowned skills in music, design, lighting, fireworks and performing arts.

“In the words of that Scottish icon, Andy Stewart, 'Come in! Come In!' - it will be lovely to see you!”


Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “This year Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrates its 25th birthday so it’s fitting that it will be the biggest party ever staged in Scotland’s great capital city. The fireworks display is being extended with new events like Bairns Afore and Message from the Skies plus favourites such as the Torchlight Procession and Loony Dook. There will be something for everyone not just to see but to take part in. Come along and experience what Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is really about!”


The Lord Provost, Councillor Frank Ross, on behalf of the One City Trust said: “I’m delighted that Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is partnering with One City Trust with money from Torchlight Procession tickets going to the charity and with 300 ticketys being donated via One City Trust to the young people of Edinburgh. Scotland’s great Capital has much to be proud of, however there are many people who do not have access to the privileges living in Edinburgh brings and modest sums of money can bring about huge changes to their lives. One City Trust’s important community projects support those people affected by social exclusion whether it is homelessness, prejudice or poverty.”


Val McDermid, bestselling Scottish writer said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be involved with such a unique project that will showcase Edinburgh in surprising ways. For a writer, the challenge of trying something new is always exciting and Message from the Skies will be a demanding exercise of imagination and narrative technique. It’s going to be great fun!”


Nina Nesbitt, Scottish singer-songwriter and #ScotWord Ambassador said: “I'm proud to be part of the #ScotWord project as I'm passionate about helping the younger generation of Scotland have access to great opportunities and build a better future together.”


Sanjeev Kohli said: "There's only really one place to be at Hogmanay & that's Princes Street in Edinburgh. And this is going to be MASSIVE. I'll be on hand to make sure everyone is partying as hard as they can"





Hogmanay’s Torchlight Procession will have a new look: one #ScotWord, created with flaming torches in Holyrood Park, sharing with the world Scotland’s young people’s answer to the question “What makes you most proud to live in Scotland?”.

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will herald Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018. A Scotland wide campaign co-designed and led by young people will seek to reach their peers in Scotland between the ages of 8 and 26 over the autumn/winter period this year in a quest to find the #ScotWord. Young ambassadors will hold workshops around the country to get young people talking about how they would go about describing Scotland to the rest of the world.

Scottish singer-songwriter Nina Nesbitt will be the face of the campaign with a call to action to Scotland’s young people to get involved and submit their #ScotWords. Young people will be able to share videos online to express their thoughts, helping to inspire others, creating a sense of community and democracy among Scotland’s young people, and giving them a platform to have their voices heard on a global stage.

A shortlist of suggested words – chosen by the young ambassadors - will be made public at the beginning of December. The young people of Scotland will then vote to select one of those words which will then form the culmination of this year’s Torchlight Procession, launching Edinburgh’s Hogmanay world wide with an image and a message that heralds to the world the value of young people in Scotland at the beginning of 2018 Year of Young People.

Underbelly is working with the Scottish Government, EventScotland and Young Scot to realise this project.

A further announcement with detail on how to get involved will be made in September.


TORCHLIGHT PROCESSION (30 Dec – 7.00pm start time, £12 for torch, £3 for additional participants to accompany torch bearer, capacity 20,000)

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay starts with one of the most popular annual events for residents and visitors to the city, the Torchlight Procession.

Born of the Viking tradition, Edinburgh’s torchlight procession has become famous around the world as one of the first images of the impending change to a new year.

This year the procession will start from three different points, High Street, South Bridge, and North Bridge and join together to travel down the Royal Mile before winding through Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament to reach Holyrood Park. People can participate in the parade either by bearing a torch or by purchasing a £3 ticket and accompanying a torch bearer, or by joining the crowds who turn out to watch the spectacle.

In Holyrood Park, the young people at the head of the parade will be funnelled into a shape to create #ScotWord in fire. The photo, taken from the air, will travel around the world, celebrating Scotland’s young people and marking New Year in a bold, innovative and contemporary statement.


BAIRNS AFORE (31 DEC 5.00PM, £12 adults, £9 for children, capacity 6,000)

On 31st December, families and young people will have the opportunity to celebrate their Hogmanay in Princes Street Gardens in a brand new event, Bairns Afore.

A family friendly show (also good for others) will culminate in a fireworks finale from Edinburgh Castle and West Princes Street Gardens allowing them to celebrate Hogmanay together and still leave the city centre ahead of the Street Party crowds to get Scotland’s young people home… and possibly to bed.

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will also make 300 free tickets for Bairns Afore available to One City Trust to maximize the opportunity for young people around Edinburgh to get involved and celebrate Hogmanay. One City Trust is dedicated to fighting inequality and exclusion in Edinburgh.


STREET PARTY (7.00PM TO 1.00AM, £25 (limited EH postcode offer £20), capacity 60,000)

The world’s best New Year street party.

Scotland will welcome the world through its Front Door this Hogmanay to its brand new, re-booted Street Party, where from 7.00pm to 1.00am, an animated and carnival type atmosphere will occupy the full length of the Princes Street arena.

The Party will be put back in the Street with bands, DJs, street dancers, flash mobs and acrobatics on stages up and down the street, making it the best, most vibrant party anywhere in the world that night. There will be communal moments to bring everyone together in a massive celebration, and singular moments just for you.

Every party needs a host and we’re delighted that Sanjeev Kohli (Still Game, BBC) has agreed to be our first Hogmanay host, entertaining and guiding the crowds throughout the arena.

Up and down the street, light, sound and screens will be used to create one space where Edinburgh welcomes the world in to celebrate New Year.

The music stages around the arena will offer up great indie bands and artists (Waverley Bridge), Disco and DJs (Castle Street) and the best of Scottish (East Princes Street).

An expert team of international event creatives has been brought together and will be led by Executive Producer, Martin Green. Martin is one of the UK's leading live event producers. He was Head of Events for London for five years, overseeing their New Year’s Eve celebrations. He was Head of Ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and he is currently the CEO and Director of Hull UK City Of Culture 2017

Scotland’s own Struan Leslie (extensive work across stage and television including RSC) joins the team as director of the Street Party.

The full creative team and the programme of artists will be announced at a later date. 



CEILIDH UNDER THE CASTLE (8.30pm, £50, capacity 3,600)

This year the traditional Hogmanay ceilidh will take place in the west end of West Princes Street Gardens under Edinburgh’s famous castle offering those dancing their night away the chance to be part of the midnight fireworks moment in one of the most beautiful spots in Edinburgh.

Program of artists to be announced at a later date.


CONCERT IN THE GARDENS (9.00pm, doors at 8.00pm, capacity 10,000)


FIREWORKS (12.00am)

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will celebrate midnight with an extended fireworks display by Titanium (previous Edinburgh and London New Year’s) set to music and launched from Edinburgh Castle.


LOONY DOOK (time is tide dependent, £10, capacity 1,000)

The Loony Dook (or the daft dip!) will continue its New Year’s Day tradition at South Queensferry. In the shadow of the Forth Rail Bridge, the dippers in fancy dress or the scantily clad will brave the chill to raise money for charities while shaking off their Hogmanay hangover.


MESSAGE FROM THE SKIES (dusk to 10.00pm, unticketed, no fixed capacity)

New Year’s Resurrection – created and written by Val McDermid


From Monday 1 January through to Thursday 25 January, Burns Night, the long dark evenings of Edinburgh will be illuminated by Message from the Skies, a new multi-artform project to celebrate Scotland and Edinburgh’s literary status and heritage.


In the first UNESCO City of Literature, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, in partnership with the Edinburgh International Book Festival, has commissioned Val McDermid to create and write a short story that will be told through projections onto buildings and landmarks around Edinburgh. McDermid is creating and writing a story called New Year’s Resurrection and will collaborate with dramaturg, Philip Howard of Pearlfisher, Edinburgh based projection company Double Take Projections and some of Scotland’s best soundscape artists to bring the story to life.


Picking up on the proud literary tradition of writers like Dickens who serialized a book week by week, audiences of Message from the Skies will move from location to location to read the next part. Each building or landmark will be its own chapter.


The route will be announced at a later date but can be done in one evening. An app will allow audiences to hold their device up to each building and see the story translated into different languages, making the project equally accessible to all visitors to Edinburgh. The app will also read the text to partially-sighted audiences.


Message from the Skies is commissioned and presented by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, produced by Underbelly and Pearlfisher, in partnership with Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust and is supported by Creative Scotland through the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals EXPO fund.


“Message from the skies” is a line from Robert Burns’s poem “Sketch New Year's Day. To Mrs Dunlop” (1789).



Notes to Editors

Scottish Government – Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund

The Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund assessment process and funding is administered by Creative Scotland, with input from Event Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Festivals Edinburgh and City of Edinburgh Council. 

The 2017/18 EXPO Fund has a budget of £2.1m for Edinburgh’s Festivals and £200,000 is provided to Festivals Edinburgh to promote and position Edinburgh as the world’s leading festival city.



EventScotland is working to make Scotland the perfect stage for events. By developing an exciting portfolio of sporting and cultural events EventScotland is helping to raise Scotland’s international profile and boost the economy by attracting more visitors. For further information about EventScotland, its funding programmes and latest event news visit www.EventScotland.org. Follow EventScotland on Twitter @EventScotNews.

EventScotland is a team within VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, the national tourism organisation which markets Scotland as a tourism destination across the world, gives support to the tourism industry and brings sustainable tourism growth to Scotland. For more information about VisitScotland see www.visitscotland.org or for consumer information on Scotland as a visitor destination see www.visitscotland.com.


Year of Young People

The Year of Young People 2018 will be the next of the Scottish Government’s series of themed years, following the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.

The Year of Young People (YoYP 2018) will inspire Scotland through its young people aged 8 to 26, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally

Central to YoYP 2018 will be a celebratory events programme that puts young people at the heart of its development and delivery, creating new and valuable experiences for young Scots and the wider public, with links to the inaugural 2018 European Championships.

Over 200 young people throughout Scotland are currently being recruited to become YoYP 2018 Ambassadors. Ambassadors will ensure that people and organisations in their communities know about what’s happening and will lead on projects and activities to create events and opportunities to celebrate young people.

The Year of Young People will have six themes which were developed in co-production with young people themselves:

Participation – looking at how young people can influence public services and decisions which affect their lives

Education – creating a stronger role for young people in shaping their learning

Health and Wellbeing – supporting young people to lead healthier, active lives and have opportunities to learn about and improve their mental health and resilience

Equality and Discrimination – broadcasting the value of young Scots, challenging negative perceptions of young people, and supporting young people to take leading roles in challenging discrimination in all its forms.

Enterprise and regeneration – celebrating young people’s role in innovation, entrepreneurship and the Scottish economy as well as making Scotland a greener and more pleasant place to live

Culture – celebrating young people’s talent and contribution to Scottish culture and arts.


Further information on what’s happening and how people can get involved can be found on the new website www.yoyp2018.scot or @YOYP2018 on Twitter.


The City of Edinburgh Council

The City of Edinburgh Council has been involved with Edinburgh’s Hogmanay since its inception in 1998. The Council is also a core supporter of Edinburgh’s 11 Festivals which, alongside major events, enhance residents’ quality of life and cultural opportunities, and attracts significant numbers of national and international visitors to the city, along with the world’s print, broadcast and online media. Edinburgh Festivals 2015 Impact Study confirms the huge contribution that Edinburgh’s Festivals make to the quality of life, international reputation and economic vitality of Edinburgh and Scotland, including attracting audiences of more than 4.5 million and generating an impact of £280m in Edinburgh and £313m in Scotland.


Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here.  We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life.  We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit www.creativescotland.com.  Follow us @creativescots and www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland


About Underbelly

Underbelly is a UK based live entertainment company whose beginnings were rooted in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2000. Its events and festivals division now operates one of the largest operations at the Fringe, selling over 234,000 tickets for over 140 shows over 25 days in 2016.

2017 will be the fifth Edinburgh’s Christmas that Underbelly has produced for City of Edinburgh Council (with unique visitors of 917,000 in 2016).

Elsewhere Underbelly also produces Underbelly Festival on the Southbank in London, this year in its 9th year and one of the biggest multi-arts offerings in London, Christmas in Leicester Square, Udderbelly Festival in Hong Kong, West End Live in Trafalgar Square for Westminster City Council and the Society of London Theatre and Pride in London, the second largest annual event in London after the Marathon.

Through its Underbelly Productions arm it produces and promotes live shows in London's West End, throughout the UK and on tour internationally and will be bringing its revival of Clarke Peters’ Five Guys Named Moe to a new temporary theatre in Marble Arch, London in September 2017.

In 2016 Underbelly sold over 1.3 million tickets to its various events. www.underbelly.co.uk


Sanjeev Kohli

Sanjeev Kohli is a writer/presenter/actor. He is the co-writer/co-star of award-winning Radio 4 comedy Fags Mags and Bags, has written for sketch shows Chewin’ The Fat and Goodness Gracious Me, has presented extensively on BBC Scotland & Radio Scotland, and is an occasional newspaper columnist. He also plays AJ in River City, & has appeared in the likes of Cold Feet, Fresh Meat & Look Around You. He is best-known though for playing shopkeeper Navid in Still Game, which returned to The Hydro this year for a 15-show run. He can also hold his breath for the entire length of the Clyde Tunnel, but doesn’t recommend this to other drivers.

Double Take Projections. Edinburgh based Steven and David McConnachie - are part of a new generation of emerging Scottish projection artists who have built up an extraordinary catalogue of work in a very short space of time (Spectra – Aberdeen Festival of Light, Merchant City Festival and On the Massacre of Glencoe for NLS).

Pearlfisher is Scotland's new theatre company that specialises in talent development and the touring of new work. Writers and their development are at the centre of their vision, but every project they do includes a raft of paid apprenticeships in varied disciplines which invest in the future. Pearlfisher’s portfolio includes new plays and reimagined classics, and bespoke event management of literary projects. Pearlfisher are Philip Howard and Mike Griffiths. 

Philip is a director and dramaturg. Trained at the Royal Court Theatre, London, he was the (longest serving) Artistic Director of the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 1996-2008, and, more recently, joint Artistic Director of Dundee Rep Theatre. An experienced teacher and script editor, he has edited three collections for Nick Hern Books, including the Collected Reviews of Joyce McMillan. Mike was Administrative Director of the Traverse from 2001 to 2009 and has held a number of senior roles in the arts since.

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