Tickets for Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations are selling at their quickest rate since the turn of the century as organisers warned revellers they face being turned away if they leave it to the last minute.
More tickets than ever before have been sold for the city’s festivities after an extra “Concert in the Gardens” was added and the opening night torchlight parade was made all-ticket for the first time.
Organisers are predicting that the crowds descending on the city centre tonight will be just as big for Hogmanay after superstar singer Paolo Nutini agreed to stage a special “Night Afore” gig.
An open-air ceilidh on the Royal Mile on Hogmanay, the Loony Dook at South Queensferry, the pop-up Scot:Lands festival around the capital’s Old Town and a closing ‘Final Fling’ at the National Museum of Scotland have also sold out in advance, along with Nutini’s two 10,000-capacity gigs.
Organisers have even urged people not to travel into the city centre on Hogmanay without a ticket due to an unprecedented rush for briefs.
The warning has been issued after it emerged that Edinburgh Airport was expecting a record 86,000 passengers to arrive in the week running-up to the Hogmanay celebrations, compared to 71,000 last year.
Festival producers Unique Events say the torchlight procession curtain-raiser, which has been made all-ticket to try to accommodate huge demand to take part in the popular parade of fire, is also “on course” to be a 30,000 sell-out.
Wristbands and torches must be purchased in advance by anyone planning to follow the route from George IV Bridge in the Old Town to Calton Hill in the New Town.
The producers are also urging anyone attending tonight’s Nutini concert to enter Princes Street Gardens from the west end to try to ease possible crowd congestion at the foot of The Mound.
The singer will take to the stage shortly after a fireworks display from Calton Hill at the climax of the torchlight procession, which has attracted more than 50,000 spectators and participants in recent years.
Festival director Al Thomson said: “Thanks to the enhancements we’ve made to the festival this year, we’ve sold an additional 20,000 tickets, and overall we’ve sold more than ever before.
“The big thing for us his year is try to keep the audiences for the two ‘night afore’ events separated as they are happening at the same time.
“We will be opening the gates early for the concert to get people into the gardens and want the majority of the audience to come in via the west end.
“Edinburgh is going to be absolutely packed on the 30th. We are expecting just as many people as Hogmanay for the first time and Hearts are also playing Aberdeen at Tynecastle.
“It’s going to be so busy across a 48-hour period in Edinburgh that we are telling people not to come into the city centre without a ticket.
“We will be selling tickets for the Hogmanay street party on the day, but people definitely shouldn’t turn up and expect to get one.
“We know from experience that some visitors from overseas turn up in the city without a ticket. They know there is a festival on and know they want to spend new year in Edinburgh, but may not necessarily know events are ticketed.”
Weather experts have warned revellers to brace themselves for downpours in Edinburgh city centre on Hogmanay.
Blustery conditions are expected from early afternoon, although the skies are expected to be clear in the run-up to “The Bells.”
Gusts of up to 40 miles per hour are being predicted by the Met Office, the capital is set to escape the severe winds which have led to its world-famous street party being cancelled twice previously.
Senior Met Office advisor Graeme Forrester said: “Everything is looking nice and dry for Edinburgh urge until Hogmanay itself, when there will be a band of rain coming south, which will affect the city centre from around 2pm till around 8pm. It should be pretty fair by midnight.
"It will be quite blustery but nothing compared to what we saw across the country last weekend. There won't be any damaging winds."