SCOTLAND’S big year in the international spotlight will get underway with a major free cultural celebration across Edinburgh - drawn from the length and breadth of the country.
Nine historic venues across the capital’s Old Town will be handed over to some of the nation’s leading musicians and artists for a free New Year’s Day celebration as part of the 21st annual Hogmanay festival.
Live music, theatre and dance inspired by locations as varied as Shetland, the North-West Highlands, Glasgow, Dundee, the East Neuk of Fife and a former mining village in Midlothian will take centre-stage across Edinburgh’s Old Town.
Performers lined up include Scottish Album of the Year winner RM Hubbert, Mercury Prize nominee King Creosote, BBC Folk Award winners Lau and Karine Polwart, award-winning actress Cora Bissett and BAFTA-winning art collective FOUND.
Scottish acts already dominate the previously-announced line-up for the main Hogmanay street party on Princes Street, which Django Django, The Rezillos, Treacherous Orchestra, Nina Nesbitt and Chvrches although English pop icons the Pet Shop Boys are headlining the flagship concert in Princes Street Gardens.
Details of venues where shows will be staged as part of the “Scot:Lands” event on New Year’s are being kept firmly under wraps the new year has dawned.
Thousands of visitors are instead expected to descend on the National Museum of Scotland to pick up a guide to the city-wide show, which will run for three and a half hours. It will be staged several hours after the traditional “Loony Dook” at South Queensferry.
The cultural celebration, which is being bankrolled to the tune of £200,000 by the Scottish Government as part of its Edinburgh Festivals “Expo Fund”, will be the first major event to be held in Scotland under the banner of Homecoming Scotland 2014.
Key elements are being created by the likes of the famous Ceilidh Place hotel in Ullapool, and will be inspired by the landscape which surrounds the A835 road, the new Mareel arts centre in Shetland, and the Fence Collective, the music scene in the East Neuk which gave birth to a host of big-name acts and the famous Homegame festivals.
The day will feature a revival of a hit multi-media Fringe show from this year, Whatever Gets You Through The Night, which started life at the Arches in Glasgow, and is inspired by stories set across Scotland between the hours of midnight and 4am. Performers at the one-off show on New Year’s Day include singers Eugene Kelly and Rachel Sermanni.
Groundbreaking trio Lau, regular performers at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, will be joining forces with a string of other leading musicians for a special collaboration, including Fraser Fifield, Donald Hay and Tim Matthew.
The Pathhead Music Collective, which helped the Midlothian village win an accolade as one of Scotland’s most artistic places last year, will see the likes of Karine Polwart, Corrina Hewat, Sophie Bancroft and David Milligan join forces to try to recreate one of its family ceilidhs.
Celebrated island supergroup Fiddlers’ Bid will be recreating a “Shetland Session” fresh from an appearance at the street party the previous evening, while guitarist RM Hubbert and singer Emily Scott will be among the singers appearing with FOUND in a candlelit show - which will “treat sound and silence as equals.”
After the Scot:Lands event has drawn to a close, a string of pubs in the historic Grassmarket will be rounding off the three-day festival with a “One For The Road” after-party featuring free live music.
The Grassmarket has already been confirmed to play host to a free open-air St Andrew’s Party, one of the centrepiece event’s of the capital’s revamped Christmas programme this year.
Both winter festivals are being run jointly by Unique Events, the Edinburgh firm which has produced the Hogmanay celebrations for the last 21 years, and London-based promoters Underbelly, who are bringing a hit international cabaret show, Limbo, north for the entire Christmas and Hogmanay season.
Unique said the Old Town venues taking part in the New Year’s Day event would be “reinvented” by some of Scotland’s most innovative artists deploying both the work and places that had inspired them the most.
Festival director Pete Irvine, one of Unique’s founders, said: “Scotland’s big year starts here.
“As excitement and anticipation buildings for the biggest event year Scotland has ever seen, we’re ready to start it off.” The Hogmanay festival will be bookended with a revamped torchlight procession through the city centre, which will start from a new location, on George IV Bridge later than in previous years to allow a spectacular light show to be staged on Calton Hill at exactly 20:14 hours.
Paul Bush, chief executive of EventScotland, which is celebrating winning a bid to bring the MTV Europe Music Awards to Glasgow in 2014, said: “This year Hogmanay will be the event that signals the start of Homecoming and there couldn’t be a more fitting way to kick off a year where Scotland will welcome the world.
“With the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup, and a packed Homecoming Scotland programme, Scotland really is the place to be next year.”
Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Hogmanay is a time for us all to reflect on the year gone by and to look forward to new beginnings, and this is especially relevant as we stand on the threshold of such a momentous year for Scotland.
“The Scot:Lands event will also give people an opportunity to start 2014 as they mean to go on, exploring a feast of Scottish culture in Edinburgh, the best place to celebrate the new year.”
Full details of the three-day programme and tickets are available via www.edinburghshogmanay.com.