First look: Thousands of torch-bearers take to streets of Edinburgh's Old Town for Hogmanay festival fire parade

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Thousands of fired-up torch-bearers have taken to the streets of Edinburgh’s Old Town to herald the start of the city’s Hogmanay festivities.

Around 20,000 people took part in the annual torchlight procession curtain-raiser to launch the 27th edition of the event, with another 20,000 estimated to have watched on from vantage points on the Royal Mile.

Thousands of torch-bearers formed a 'friendship' symbol in Holyrood Park at the finale of the torchlight procession.

Thousands of torch-bearers formed a 'friendship' symbol in Holyrood Park at the finale of the torchlight procession.

Fire-throwing artists and drummers led the “river of light” to Holyrood Park, where the crowds gathered to create a symbol of friendship against the backdrop of the city centre before a fireworks display above Calton Hill.

Ten pipes and drums bands drawn from across Scotland took part in the parade, along with fire theatre company PyroCeltica and the Harbingers Drum Crew, with The Torches and Clanadonia among the groups entertaining the crowds in the park.

The parade, which was declared a sell-out by organisers, kicked off three days of major events in the city which are expected to attract an overall audience of around 160,000 people.

Lord Provost Frank Ross, who led the parade, said: “Once again the torchlight procession provided a breathtaking start to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay.”

Around 40,000 people were estimated to have taken part in the opening night fire parade, which ended with a fireworks display above Calton Hill.

Around 40,000 people were estimated to have taken part in the opening night fire parade, which ended with a fireworks display above Calton Hill.

Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood, directors of Hogmanay festival producers Underbelly, said: “The torchlight procession is Edinburgh’s Hogmanay’s iconic opening event, a moment when people come together to celebrate the end of one year and the start of a new one, and this year a new decade too.

“The image of thousands of people forming the image of two people reaching out their hands in friendship is something to be proud of, of warmth, welcome and friendship.”

Paul Bush, director of events at national tourism agency VisitScotland, said: "The spectacular torchlight procession has kicked off three days of fantastic Hogmanay celebrations across Edinburgh and we were delighted to continue our support of the event, which offered both locals and visitors the chance to be part of a uniquely Scottish tradition whilst also marking the start of the global new Year celebrations.”

“Scotland and indeed Edinburgh’s world-famous Hogmanay celebrations are a massive draw for those seeking to bring in the new year in style, and further reinforce Scotland as the perfect stage for events."

Perfomers from the group PyroCeltica thrilled the crowds lining the Royal Mile.

Perfomers from the group PyroCeltica thrilled the crowds lining the Royal Mile.

Lord Provost Frank Ross led the torchlight procession down the Royal Mile to Holyrood Park.

Lord Provost Frank Ross led the torchlight procession down the Royal Mile to Holyrood Park.

Thousands of fired-up torch-bearers have taken to the streets of Edinburghs Old Town to herald the start of the citys Hogmanay festivities. Pic: Edinburgh PyroCeltica

Thousands of fired-up torch-bearers have taken to the streets of Edinburghs Old Town to herald the start of the citys Hogmanay festivities. Pic: Edinburgh PyroCeltica

The torchlight procession is the traditional curtainraiser for Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations.

The torchlight procession is the traditional curtainraiser for Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations.