Despite my dread of hosting Hogmanay shows, Scotland is still the best place to ring in the New Year – Stephen Jardine

Instagram influencers and TikTok creators flocking to Scotland for the authentic Hogmanay experience show the old magic still sparkles

For several years, this date in the calendar came with a sense of trepidation for me. Not about the 12 months ahead and what it might bring but specifically about what had to happen before the year turned. That is because for five years, I presented Hogmanay shows on TV and I’m only now beginning to get over the trauma.

The last night of the year is a big set piece occasion on the telly so being asked seems like a compliment. Then you realise in reality no sane person wants to work that shift and the excitement starts to wane.

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It all started well on Millenium night, surrounded by 100,000 people partying like crazy because it really was 1999. I can clearly remember the electric atmosphere and the vast crowd below our scaffolding tower on Princes Street. But it was also an early taste of the many things that can go wrong. We were supposed to introduce the Bay City Rollers down at the Ross Bandstand but communications failed so their cue to play ended up being our floor manager Stuart waving his tartan scarf above his head.

There was an electric atmosphere at Edinburgh's Hogmanay street party in 1999 (Picture: Sandy Young)There was an electric atmosphere at Edinburgh's Hogmanay street party in 1999 (Picture: Sandy Young)
There was an electric atmosphere at Edinburgh's Hogmanay street party in 1999 (Picture: Sandy Young)

A close shave, then a Titanic one

The following year, for some inexplicable reason, we filmed the Hogmanay show in Aberdeen in November, probably on the basis that if a pre-record works for Jools Holland and his Hootenany then it would also work for us. Or more likely it was just cheaper. Despite brilliant music from Rab Noakes, it had all the excitement of bingo night in a monastery.

So the next year was back to Edinburgh and an office balcony on Castle Street with Lorraine Kelly and some blokes down below shouting obscenities. Twelve months on, the days between Christmas and New Year again brought a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I looked at scripts, watched the weather forecast and worried if my coat would fit after all the turkey and mince pies.

That year we were on a rooftop on George Street on a freezing evening and 12 months later we were back there again with the big TV lights constantly being blown over by the wind. Clambering down a ladder at the end, it felt like we’d had a close shave.

So on the following December 31, I booked a holiday and went away. That was the year the celebrations were curtailed and then cancelled due to gale-force winds. The TV coverage ended up coming from a broom cupboard. I felt like the man who disembarked the Titanic just before it sailed and having had that lucky escape, I never went back.

In an age when we are all connected online and watch what we want when we want, Hogmanay as a big TV moment in the year might seem like a dated concept. But try telling that to the Instagram influencers and TikTok creators who have flocked here this weekend because we do New Year’s Eve better than anyone else in the world.

So let’s celebrate our unique attraction, legendary hospitality and magnificent surroundings, and the fact that at the end of a challenging old year, the prospect of a new year brings hope and possibilities for us all. Wherever and however you are celebrating, Happy New Year.



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