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Fancy something different this New Year? Have a look at our alternative Scottish Hogmanay guide

No other country on earth can boast such rich and diverse ways of bringing in the New Year. From traditions that have been passed down over thousands of years to more recent, but as equally bizarre, no-one quite celebrates Hogmanay like the Scots.

Burning of the Clavie

Date: Tuesday 11 January

Venue: Brander Street, Burghead, Moray

Cost: Free

Every year on the night of 11 January - the original Hogmanay before the calendar changed in 1660 - a dozen men parade the town carrying a flaming barrel - the Clavie - on their shoulders.

The men then carry the Clavie to a cairn on nearby Doorie Hill, where they set it down. More fuel is added to the fire until the barrel disintegrates and its charred remains come tumbling down the hill in a shower of sparks.

People used to run into the flames in order to collect the lucky embers, but now, as a result of an agreement reached by the organisers and the local authorities before the 1999 event, spectators must wait until stewards have deemed the Clavie is safe before running to retrieve a piece.

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Biggar Bonfire

Date: Friday 31 December 2010

Time: 9pm to 2am

Venue: Biggar

Cost: Free

Every Hogmanay, the residents of Biggar set a huge bonfire to celebrate the new year. It's believed that this tradition has gone on in the village since the time of the druids.

After the fire has been lit by the town's oldest inhabitant, a pipe band plays and the locals dance the night away around the blaze.

Over the years there have been various attempts to prevent the fire from being lit, most recently in 1989, when an incomer who had bought a house near the site complained to the authorities about its size.

Fire Brigade chiefs met with the organisers and, after some negotiation, it was agreed that the event would be allowed to proceed on the condition that the fire was hosed down at half past midnight.

At the appointed time, the fire brigade arrived and the fire was put out, but soon afterwards it had mysteriously begun to burn away again. According to the official version of events, this was because the fire was not extinguished properly, although rumour has it that as soon as the fire brigade had left the scene, someone gave the smouldering remains a helping hand with 30 gallons of diesel.

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Comrie Hogmanay

Date: Friday 31 December 2010

Venue: Comrie

Cost: Free

Every Hogmanay the residents of Comrie get dressed up in fancy dress and set off on a torchlight procession accompanied by the Comrie Pipe Band. After marching to the four points of the compass to ward off evil spirits, the torches are used to light a bonfire in the town centre and dancing and merrymaking ensue.

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Kirkwall Ba Game

Date: Saturday 1 January 2011

Time: 1pm

Venue: Mercat Cross, Kirkwall

Cost: Free

The Orkney Ba' Game is "the ancestor of all the ball sports". Every New Year's Day for as long as anyone in Kirkwall can remember, the streets have been transformed into a sea of writhing bodies as two teams - the Uppies and the Doonies - play a game which is best described as rugby without any rules.

At 1pm at the Mercat Cross on Broad Street, a former Ba' winner or local dignitary begins the game by throwing a custom-made medicine ball into the air above the heads of up to 200 waiting players.

From here, the Doonies must get the Ba' into the sea at Kirkwall Bay in order to win, while the Uppies must get it safely round Mackinson's corner at the junction of Main Street and New Scapa Road. The winning team then gets to pick a "winner" from among its ranks - usually a player who has served his team well over a number of years.

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Ancient Fireballs Ceremony

Date: Friday 31 December 2010

Time: Midnight

Venue: Stonehaven

Cost: Free

At midnight every Hogmanay, between 45 and 50 men and women parade through the streets of Stonehaven, swinging 20lb balls of fire above their heads on 5ft metal wires until they reach the harbour, where the balls are hurled into the sea.

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Hogmanay Fire Walk

Date: Friday 31 December 2010

Time: Registration begins 2.45pm

Venue: Doonies Farm, The Coast Road, Nigg, Aberdeen

Cost: 50

It's fair to say we're in for a cold one this year so why not warm-up for the bells by walking over hot coals. Makes perfect sense.

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The One O'clock Run

Date: Saturday 1 January 2011

Time: Check-in 11am–12.30pm

Venue: Run from Edinburgh Castle Esplanade starts at 1pm and finishes

at Holyrood Park

Cost: Tickets cost 8 and includes an event t-shirt

A New Year's sprint down the Royal Mile could be an ideal hangover cure for those who've indulged too much the night before or for others who are looking to start 2011 as they mean to go on.

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The Loony Dook

Date: Saturday 1 January 2011

Time: Check-in 12pm–2pm

Venue: South Queensferry

Cost: 6 Entry Fee in advance only

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This world-famous event takes place in the shadow of the Forth Rail Bridge and involves 1,000 shivering souls plunging into the icy New Year's day waters.

MORE ON SCOTLAND'S HOGMANAY

• Main Hogmanay and New Year's day events around Scotland

• Ten unusual facts about Hogmanay in Scotland

 
 
 

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