ORGANISERS of Scotland’s biggest Hogmanay celebrations are expecting a last-minute ticket rush after weather forecasts predicted mild conditions for the capital’s money-spinning festivities.
Forecasters say temperatures in Edinburgh city centre are set to rise dramatically by tomorrow and Wednesday, reaching as high as nine degrees during the day, with only sporadic showers.
And they say winds are not expected to reach more than 30 miles per hour, meaning Edinburgh’s flagship celebrations – which have twice fallen victim to bad weather over the last ten years – are highly unlikely to be at risk from the conditions.
A huge influx of visitors from more than 60 countries is expected in Edinburgh in the next few days, with tickets for major events such as the Torchlight Procession curtain-raiser, an open-air Hogmanay ceilidh on Princes Street and the New Year’s Day Loony Dook at South Queensferry already sold out.
Organisers also warned yesterday that just “a couple of hundred” tickets are available for the centrepiece Concert in the Gardens on Hogmanay, which pop star Lily Allen is headlining.
Thousands of passes are left for the street party, despite three of Scotland’s leading indie bands – including Mercury Prize winners Young Fathers – appearing in the line-up.
However, organisers of the three-day festival have warned revellers not to leave it too late to snap up their tickets, as they are expecting lengthy queues at the box office on the Royal Mile on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Last year’s Hogmanay festivities were hit by uncertainty over the weather conditions in the run-up to the event, with the Met Office warning of a “pretty unsettled” outlook and council chiefs admitting the event was in “the hands of the weather gods”.
In the end, the street party arena was believed to be almost 5,000 short of its 75,000 capacity, despite weather conditions on the night being described as almost perfect by organisers.
However this year’s outlook for the festivities – which are believed to be worth more than £30 million to the economy – is looking a lot more settled.
Robin Steele, a forecaster at the Met Office in Aberdeen, said: “The overall trend as we head up to Hogmanay is turning a bit milder and a wee bit breezy at times.
“Over the next couple of days it will still be dry, bright and frosty, turning a lot milder on Tuesday and getting a bit cloudier.
“For Hogmanay itself, it should be milder again, a bit breezy and with a chance of a bit of rain on Hogmanay.
“You’re probably looking at a wind speed of around 20 miles per hour, getting up to gusts of 30, but that is not particularly bad in the great scheme of things.
“However, people should still be prepared and wrap up properly, even when it is milder than it is at the moment.
“I wouldn’t rule out some rain in Edinburgh on Hogmanay, there’s definitely a chance of it, although it looks a lot wetter in the west of Scotland. But there are definitely no indications of serious weather problems at all.”
The Hogmanay street party – which had its capacity cut from 100,000 to 80,000 six years ago in the wake of dwindling demand after ticket charges were introduced – allows access to two live music stages at Waverley Bridge and Frederick Street, where Twin Atlantic, The Twilight Sad, Eddi Reader and Breabach will be among those performing.
A third stage at the top of The Mound will see Australian DJ Tom Loud play the biggest-ever version of his hit Edinburgh Festival Fringe show Hot Dub Time Machine.
A spokeswoman for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay said: “We would strongly advise people not to leave it too late to buy their tickets.
“Although we will be selling tickets for the street party until 9pm on Hogmanay we are expecting lengthy queues in the last couple of days of ticket sales so people shouldn’t really wait until the last minute.”
Other major outdoor Hogmanay parties are being staged at Stirling Castle and in Inverness.