HUNDREDS of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay revellers shrugged off their hangovers as they braved the freezing waters of the Forth on the first day of the year.
All 1100 places for South Queensferry’s long-running “Loony Dook” were snapped up well in advance with participants from around the world donning fancy dress for the occasion.
Vikings, penguins, cartoon characters, farmyard animals and even giant pieces of fruit could be seen frolicking in the freezing waters.
A colourful parade snaked its way through South Queensferry before the lunchtime dash into the ice estuary, with thousands lining the streets of the historic town to watch the spectacle.
Matty Hind, 24, an Australian dressed as a “mad cow”, said: “I’ve been up all night, to be honest and have hardly slept over the last few days with all the partying in Edinburgh.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to start the new year than this, I’d even heard about it in Australia it’s so well known.”
Fellow Australian Mel O’Malley, 25, who was part of a tour party from London taking in the Hogmanay festival, was one of several kilted Vikings to invade the event.
She said: “We didn’t know about the Loony Dook when we booked the trip but had to do it when we heard about it.
“We’ve had to have a couple of drinks to try to stay warm, and we’ve only had a couple of hours sleep since the street party, but everyone is so friendly here we’re not too bothered about the cold.”
Bob Kerr, 43, a volunteer coastguard from Shetland, said: “I’ve swam in the sea at home, but only in the summer.
“I’ve heard the temperature is eight degrees today, which is probably only a couple of degrees warmer than Shetland.
“I just bought a ticket for my brother and told him what we were doing. It’s a great way to start the year.”
Harvey Nicols worker Hayley Thomson came along dressed as a giant bandana, with her sister Ciara sporting a monkey costume.
Hayley, 21, said: “I’d heard so much about the event and saw loads of pictures over the years, it just seemed like a weird thing to do to start the year.
“I’ve been wanting to do it for ages but I’m going to be moving to Florida for a year to work, so didn’t want to miss out on the chance.”
The Loony Dook, which was first held in 1987, actually pre-dates the city’s official celebrations, which were held for the 20th time over the last few days.
Organisers marked the occasion by reviving favourite events from previous years, including a triathlon at the Royal Commonwealth Pool and Holyrood Park, which also hosted a revival of the “Dogmanay” husky dog races.
A one-off Your Lucky Day event - funded to the tune of £250,000 by the Scottish Government - saw music and arts events staged at a dozen historic venues.
Participants had to roll a dice to end up at the likes of a ceilidh in Greyfriars Kirk, a country hoedown in the Roxy Art House and ghostly folk songs at St Giles’ Cathedral.
The three-day Hogmanay festival was brought to a climax with an outdoor French street theatre spectacular near Edinburgh University’s main campus.
Huge crowds flocked to Buccleuch Place for the UK premiere of Plasticiens Volants’ show “Big Bang.”
New Yorker Yonah Sichrovsky, 18, said he was also planning a return visit next year after his first visit to the city for the festivities.
“My friend and I were looking on the Internet a few week ago for the best places to spend new year and Edinburgh was top of all the lists we saw.
“It’s exceeded all our expectations. The people we met are what made it so special, but everything felt so well organised.
It didn’t feel too commercialised and there weren’t too safety regulations to stop you enjoying yourself. We’re already thinking about coming back next year.”
Sherwyn Sicat, 33, a social worker from London, said: “We only decided to come up a few weeks ago, but we’re really glad we did and we would come back again, it was much better than we expected.
“The Loony Dook was definitely the highlight. Four of us dressed up as penguins and we had so many people taking our pictures. It was great fun.”