Happy 2015 everyone! Hope you’re all settling back into regular life again like we are. We spent new years in Edinburgh from December 30th – January 2nd. In Scotland, they celebrate Hogmanay at New Years. It’s supposed to be one of the top five places in the world to spend New Years, so we thought …. why not?! Warning, this post is really picture heavy! Also, this post is just really long.
The first day we just kind of walked around the city. lies at the base of an extinct volcano. So there are lots of hills, and near the centre of the town is a steep valley where the Princes’ Street Gardens and the Ross Open Air Theatre are. Also, because this city is SO old, there are so many cool pedestrian alleyways (although they call them “closes”) throughout the city. It’s like edinburgh could be it’s own game of shoots and ladders the way they allow you to short cut through the city. However, at this time of the year, the gardens are turned into the Christmas Markets.
The christmas Markets here weren’t as good as they were in Prague, but still WAY better than the ones in Dublin.
Torch Light Procession
The night we arrived, they also had the torch light procession which we had purchased tickets to carry torches in. It’s sort of a kick off to the 3-day party that is Hogmanay. Anyone can walk in the parade, but you have to pay to carry a torch. It’s essentially a march of about 35,000 people carrying torches along with the Up Helly Aa’ Vikings, massed pipes & drums. It starts on George IV Bridge up to Calton Hill. At the end of the procession is a huge fireworks display. I couldn’t really find the history behind the torch light procession, other than the fact that Scottish villages have had fire festivals associated with new years since nearly the viking days.
A word of advice for anyone who goes in the future – get there way early if you want to get in the front. You’re guaranteed to see the viking guys, you can walk behind them, and you get a front row seat to the fireworks.
Afterwards we decided to warm up with some hot mulled wine at the christmas market, and had some fun hat shopping… 😀
Arthur’s Seat/Holyrood Park
The morning of New Years Eve we decided to go climb Arthur’s Seat. It’s at the top of Holyrood Park on top of the old volcano about a mile from Edinburgh Castle. There’s many different rumours and myths around Arthur’s Seat. Arthur’s Seat is often mentioned as one of the possible locations for Camelot, the legendary castle and court of the Romano-British warrior-chief, King Arthur.
After our insane hike, we decided to rest for a little bit at the apartment before heading out for New Years. We ate dinner at a restaurant that specialises in wild game and scotch. I took advantage of my fun photo opportunity before we left when no one was looking…
We finished dinner at about 9:00, and for a moment we considered going home before heading to the New Years Eve street party. We decided against and went down, and I’m glad we did, because it was PACKED! There ended up being 75,000 people in total at the street party with 4 different stages.
They allow you to bring your own alcohol and food into the event, so long as you do not bring them in using glass containers (i.e. bottles). On one hand, that’s awesome because the crowds are so insane that you couldn’t even get to the bars set up at the street party and back if you wanted to. You pretty much just had to pick your spot and set up camp. But on the other hand, you sort of didn’t want to even consume alcohol because the moment you had to pee, you were pretty much out of luck. Getting to the bathrooms and back was a joke. Needless to say, Toby was less than pleased when I finally broke down at 11:15 pm and said I had to use the bathroom. We pushed our way like mad men through the crowds and got back with 10 minutes to spare before the midnight fireworks.
Because the crowds were so packed, and you had to pretty much set up camp and not move, you sort of instantly became best friends with whoever was standing around next to you. We just happened to be standing next to a girl who was our age from Lafayette, Indiana who was there visiting some friends she had in Edinburgh. So we all became best friends. You can see us in the photo below. And yes, I’m sober in that picture (because I was too afraid to have to have to pee I wasn’t drinking anything). For anyone who knows my mom will recognise the dance move I’m in the middle of performing… ha ha.
The place we set up camp was right infront of a DJ named “Hot Dub Time Machine” who played the top hits from 1980 to 2014 until the fireworks went off. By the way… the fireworks… amazing! They did an hourly fireworks countdown to midnight at 9pm, 10pm, and 11pm. Then at midnight they did the big shabang! I’m not going to post the finale, because it’s over 5 minutes long, but here’s what the hourly countdown looked like…
New Years Day
We didn’t do a whole lot New Years Day since a lot of things were closed. But we did meet up with a friend of ours who used to study there and happened to be in town. We snapped some photos along the way for your viewing pleasure.
The day after, January 2nd, was the day we left, but our flight wasn’t until 8pm. So exploring we went! We checked our bags into the luggage lockers at the bus station and went exploring around town for a bit. Although it was raining on and off, so we combined it with popping into pubs for some grub and drinks while it rained.
This is one of the many other hills in the city that provides AWESOME views. It’s only an 8 minute walk from Princes’ street as well. It’s also where the headquarters of the Scottish Government are.
This is the graveyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk Church. Why did we go to a graveyard you ask? Well, you all know I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan, and Voldemort (Tom Riddle’s) grave is there! Apparently J.K. Rowling wrote the series while in Edinburgh and got inspiration for names from the graveyards.
Greyfriars takes its name from the Franciscan friary on the site, which was dissolved in 1559. The churchyard was founded in 1561/2, to replace the churchyard at St Giles, which was considered full.
Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland from its position on the Castle Rock. Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock since at least the Iron Age (2nd century AD), although the nature of the early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until the Union of the Crowns in 1603. We didn’t pay to go inside, but we went to look around the grounds and to get a last great view of the city.
All in all, Edinburgh is a truly amazing city. I honestly wish I didn’t have to leave. We will DEFINITELY be back!