Pete Irvine: The whole wide world gets the message of Edinburgh's big party

HOW wonderfully Scottish was Opinion in yesterday's Scotsman. To urge that an event that puts Edinburgh centre-stage at New Year should be more parochial is so predictable it's almost amusing.

Though I am a fan of Lesley Riddoch, she's got the wrong end of the stick here. I'm almost certain she didn't attend much of our five-day festival, otherwise she would know that at Hogmanay Edinburgh itself becomes as exciting and buzzing as Broadway, a unique, must-visit experience unlike any other in the world.

Others look enviously at how completely we have commandeered the slow days around New Year to provide a festival that complements those in August and confirms that we are Festival City UK: confident, cosmopolitan and progressive.

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Neighbourly first-footing may have gone, except in small communities, but we are a capital and international city which more than most is capable of presenting itself on a grand scale in an authentic cultural context. It is not merely apocryphal to suggest (yes, we do surveys) that our satisfaction rate is extraordinarily high.

Every year there are huge numbers of first-time visitors who fall in love with Edinburgh. Then they come back. They also fall in love with the Scots, because we are not a drunken rabble on Princes Street; but friendly and passionate and good to be with.

The ability to accommodate and entertain 80,000 safely (with only four arrests), is something we should shout from the rooftops. Our famous hospitality is manifest, as fundamental as it was in the old days when we welcomed strangers to our but 'n' ben.

The argument that contemporary Scotland is not Scottish enough is a perennial one. Hogmanay's challenge every year is the same challenge that anyone in cultural activity for international audiences must address – to get the balance right: tartan/shortbread versus contemporary/universal.

There is little about the Street Party that could be "just anywhere" (certainly not this year's breathtaking fireworks above the castle, please don't compare us with Reykjavik), while the five-day programme had Scotland running through it like burns off a winter hill.

If Ms Riddoch had been able to attend she would have noted that Legendary Light at the Castle was history heartfelt and that Son et Lumire on Calton Hill was emotively Scottish with a soundtrack from Snow Patrol to Highland Cathedral.

St Giles' Cathedral featured on all days with inspirational events and enrapt audiences, the programme on New Year's Day built around the Reformation with John Knox as an unlikely beardy poster boy. Would audiences get it? They did.

Similarly, Off Kilter, the acclaimed new dance show which played to huge audiences at the Festival Theatre, was "sassy" but couthy and rooted in dance tradition. At the end, the audience are invited to "Get Tae Dance" in an on-stage ceilidh – exactly the kind of "only in Scotland" message that Hogmanay does convey.

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Over the years Hogmanay has brought to a world stage every notable Scottish band, but we're pleased that we can attract artists of international stature, like Madness. We're determined to present events and artists that have credibility and quality.

Hogmanay is not commodified. It's always different, always about people. And always ours.

More than any other annual event, Hogmanay puts Edinburgh on the global TV map. Surely people watching around the world on New Year's Day would be a tad surprised to learn that, back home, some of us think it would be better to get back to the church hall and keep our little light burning under a snow-covered gorse bush(el).

• Pete Irvine is the director of Edinburgh's Hogmanay.