City skies lit: Record-breaking 12,500 participants brave winter weather to join torchlight procession

A RIVER of fire lit up the city centre last night as thousands of people joined the annual Torchlight Procession to kick off the Capital's Hogmanay celebrations.

A record-breaking 12,500 locals and tourists braved the weather to carry burning torches up the Royal Mile and travel the one-mile route to the top of Calton Hill.

The glittering procession started with traditional bagpipe performances – which continued throughout the walk – and screaming Vikings, who guided the crowd through Princes Street to the snow-covered hill.

Participants were treated to a spectacular 20-minute sound and light and fireworks display and an "X" bonfire – to honour the imminent beginning of 2010 – kept the masses warm.

At the bottom of Calton Hill, stilt-wearing performers dressed as mythical creatures and gargoyles entertained the crowds.

The city's festival and events champion Cllr Steve Cardownie said the festivities had kicked off Hogmanay "in style".

• TEMPERATURES will plummet to minus four degrees Celsius in Edinburgh during Hogmanay, the Met Office said today.

While snow showers expected during the day will dry out during the evening, forecaster Stewart Brooks said: "It's going to be something around minus one or minus two at the start of the evening and possibly down to minus four by two or three in the morning. It could be colder than that in the more rural areas, so there will be a very, very cold walk home for people."

Temperatures are unlikely to rise above freezing on New Year's Day.

Back to the top of the page