Love letters to be sent from Edinburgh’s Hogmanay before Brexit

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Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will become a European love-in to mark the last festivities before Brexit is due to take effect.

Spanish, French and German singers, musicians and performers will perform as part a drive to celebrate Scotland’s connections with Europe.

Edinburgh Hogmanay's torchlight procession

Edinburgh Hogmanay's torchlight procession

Messages expressing Scotland’s love for Europe will be beamed around the world from historic sites across the city for nearly a month.

Organisers of the festival, who are staging it under the banner of the phrase “we love you”, have unveiled one of the most international line-ups in its 25-year historyto coincide with Britain’s impending departure from the EU.

An Ibiza-themed club night, Germany techno acts and marching bands, and French street theatre groups have been booked for the three-day festival, which will expand into Edinburgh University’s historic McEwan Hall.

The Scottish Government is funding a £180,000 project which will see six Scots writers –Billy Letford, Chitra Ramaswamy, Kapka Kassabova, Louise Welsh, Stef Smith and William Dalrymple – commissioned to write “love letters to Europe”, which will be projected on to historic buildings around the city throughout January under the second year of a partnership between Hogmanay producers Underbelly and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Thousands of torch-bearers will create the image of a giant love heart at the centre of a map of Scotland in the festival’s traditional fire parade curtainraiser, the £55,000 finale of the Scottish Government’s Year of Young People.

The midnight fireworks will be set to a soundtrack by the German “techno-marching band” Meute, while carnival acts taking to Princes Street will include French outfits Compagnie Transe Express and Compagnie Des Quidams.

Underbelly will launch a new collaboration with Glasgow’s Celtic Connections music festival with two New Year’s Day concerts in the McEwan Hall, featuring Scottish supergroup Capercaillie and Spanish piper Carlos Nunez.

Ibiza DJ Andy Joyce will helm a club night at the McEwan Hall club night, while Germany dance stars Snap! – best known for 1990s hits The Power and Rhythm Is a Dancer –and superstar Ibiza DJ Judge Jules will be on Princes Street.

Scottish acts at the street party include rising singing sensation Gerry Cinnamon and Highland outfit Elephant Sessions, best album winners at the Scots Trad Music Awards.

Underbelly director Charlie Wood said insisted there had been no political interference in the programming of the festival, which receives around £1.2 million in public funding.

He said: “If you go back to the origins of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1947 it was a response to what had been happening in the world and to try to bring people together through culture. Edinburgh’s festivals have a proud history of responding to what’s going on in the outside world.

“Hogmanay in Edinburgh has always been about opening a door to the rest of the world and saying: ‘come and celebrate your new year in our country and city.’ “Hogmanay is at the end of Scotland and the UK’s last year in the European Union, but they will still be part of Europe, regardless of your political views. We think it’s right and proper to respond to have a celebration of all things European and Scottish. There has been absolutely no political interference. It came out of brainstorming about this year’s event, a genuine response to the fact Edinburgh and Scotland will still be firmly culturally, socially and historically part of Europe.”

Underbelly director Ed Bartlam added: “This is an opportunity to celebrate the ties that Scotland has with the rest of Europe and also do something a bit different with the programme. There will be more of a European feel throughout.”