Fiona Shepherd and Jim Gilchrist on Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and New Year’s Day celebrations
Monday, 31 December
Baby Loves Disco’s Big Hogmanay Bash
Day-clubbing for tots featuring a countdown to New Year – in Queensland, Australia.
An all-ages family event in the shadow of the Castle, complete with its own fireworks display. Get down the front to provide the communal vocals for party covers band Massaoke and their repertoire of Abba, A-ha and Ariana Grande (before moving on to the Bs), plus singalong Disney favourites and songs from the ubiquitous Greatest Showman soundtrack, all at a civilised hour.
West Princes Street Gardens, 5pm
A stunning setting for a programme of epic works, performed by the St Giles’ Cathedral Choir, conducted by Michael Harris, with the St Giles’ Camerata. On the menu are Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Te Deum, whose opening will be recognisable to many as the Eurovision Song Contest theme, JS Bach’s Magnificat and his New Year cantata Gottlob! Nun geht das Jahr zu Ende, traditionally performed on the Sunday after Christmas. Near enough.
St Giles’ Cathedral, 6pm
Street Party hosted by Johnnie Walker
Princes Street throws open the doors for the legendary Hogmanay Street Party hosted by Johnnie Walker, with diverse attractions across a number of stages. Edinburgh trio Vistas and Glaswegian indie troubadour Gerry Cinnamon take to the Waverley Stage, Celtic party band Elephant Sessions, German techno marching band Meute, and retro rockers Miracle Glass Company play the South St David Street Stage and DJs Trendy Wendy, Judge Jules and the Mac Twins helm the Castle Street stage. Any remaining space is populated by street theatre, aerial dance acts and the Got Soul! Choir, plus the Silent Disco arena over on Market Street.
Princes Street, 7pm
The posh indoor option with fizz, canapés, buffet, live music and a ringside seat for the fireworks, plus the add-on opportunity to mingle with the riff-raff at the Street Party.
The Hub, 7.30pm
Ceilidh Under the Castle
Take your partners and strap on your dancing boots for an al fresco Scottish New Year shindig in the company of a trio of ceilidh bands – the Jimi Shandrix Experience, Hugh MacDermid’s Hair and Ceilidhonia.
Princes Street Gardens (enter via grounds of St Cuthbert’s Parish Church), 8:30pm, no entry after 10:30pm
Concert in the Gardens
Franz Ferdinand are a proper party band headliner for this year’s Concert in the Gardens, with a set of fail-safe indie disco favourites and some complementary new material from current album, Always Ascending. The Glasgow band have curated the rest of the danceable line-up, including Brighton collective Metronomy and Glasgow electro-art pop duo Free Love. - FIONA SHEPHERD
Princes Street Gardens, 9pm
Tuesday 1 January
First Footers’ Family Ceilidh
The magnificent McEwan Hall, an Edinburgh’s Hogmanay venue for the first time, will host what claims to be the first ceilidh of 2019, a free event (though tickets must be booked in advance) aimed at all the family, whatever their ages. A dance band caller will conduct even the least experienced dancers through the steps, so bring in 2019 with an eightsome reel and a hearty hooch.
McEwan Hall, 12:30pm
The longstanding Ne’erday tradition of bringing in the New Year with a splash, not to say a brisk bout of hypothermia, in the shadow of the Forth bridges continues, with the hardy dippers, many in fancy dress, marching the length of South Queensferry High Street, egged on by the drummers of Noise Committee, before braving the Firth of Forth briny. Spectators can cheer them on from various viewpoints along the route or from the beach, and, in a nod to more serious coastal matters, a pound from each (£2) ticket will be donated towards the vital work of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
South Queensferry, 12:30pm
Carlos Nuñez & Special Guests
The celebrated Galician piper and
multi-instrumentalist is probably the world’s best-known exponent of the gaita, the
bagpipe of north-west Spain. He’s no stranger to Scotland and particularly to Glasgow’s
Celtic Connections, but this is his first appearance at Edinburgh’s New Year spree, further highlighting this year’s celebrations’ pronounced European accent. As mentioned in the feature, left, Nuñez and his regular band will be joined at the McEwan Hall by diatonic accordionist Itsaso Elizagoien, from the Basque-speaking area of Navarra, by the Canadian fiddler and stepdancer Jon Pilatzke and by some of Nuñez’s many friends on the Scottish music scene. Expect his characteristic blend of virtuosity and exuberant showmanship.
McEwan Hall, 8pm
Capercaillie & Special Guests
Just ending their 35th year together, these globe-trotting pioneers of the Celtic music scene will bring a blast of Highland fire plus some pan-European celebrations to the McEwan Hall in this Ne’erday afternoon concert. Still fronted by founder-members vocalist Karen Matheson and Donald Shaw on accordion and keyboards, along with longstanding fiddler Charlie McKerron and others, the group’s high-energy instrumentals plus Matheson’s heart-stopping Gaelic singing should dispel any lingering Hogmanay hangovers. They’ll be joined by guests from across Europe – musical friendships that they have forged as roving ambassadors for Highland music.
McEwan Hall, 4:30pm
Message from the Skies
Nothing to do with UFOs, but the return of an imaginative project, devised in partnership with Edinburgh City of Literature, which will project the writings of six leading writers – Billy Letford, Chitra Ramaswamy, Kapka Kassabova, Louise Welsh, Stef Smith and William Dalrymple – on to some of the capital’s landmark buildings during the first month of 2019. This year’s celebration of the written word will feature six specially commissioned “love letters to Europe” in which the six writers will express their feelings at this time of uncertainty. Supported by Creative Scotland through the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo fund, these vivid literary illuminations will continue, appropriately enough, until Burns Night on 25 January. - JIM GILCHRIST
All over Edinburgh until 25 January, 5-10pm