Edinburgh's traditional Loony Dook is axed from New Year's Day programme

The traditional “Loony Dook” event has been dropped from Edinburgh’s Hogmanay – as it emerged that free music events will be staged across the city centre on the afternoon of New Year’s Day.

The National Museum of Scotland, the city's new Virgin hotel, the Rose Theatre and The Auld Hundred pub on Rose Street, and the Grassmarket bar-restaurants Cold Town House and the Black Bull, and The Huxley in the west end will be among the venues hosting musicians on 1 January.

However visitors to the city who are keen to take a new year dip are being told to head for Portobello after new festival producers Unique Events and Assembly pulled the plug on organising the official event.

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The Loony Dook’s absence has emerged after the festival revealed that the traditional torchlight procession curtain-raiser had been dropped due to funding problems and the economic climate.

The Loony Dook had attracted more than 1100 participants to South Queensferry. Picture: Roberto Ricciuti
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The full Hogmanay festival programme includes a candlelit concert at St Giles’ Cathedral on Hogmanay and three ceildh dance events at Assembly’s Roxy venue on Roxburgh Place from 30 December, including a family-friendly “Sprogmanay” event on New Year’s Day, which will also see live music, comedy and magic performed at the museum.

Callum Beattie and Roseanne Reid will be among the performers appearing in “First Footin’” music sessions across the Old and New Towns.

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The Loony Dook, which began in 1986-7 after being instigated by local residents, pre-dated the Hogmanay festival, which was launched in 1993-4, but later became part of the official programme.

Although it had grown to attract more than 1100 participants, the Loony Dook had also attracted criticism after a charge of more than £10 was imposed to help meet running costs, including road closures, health and safety measures, police and stewarding.

The Loony Dook had attracted more than 1100 participants to South Queensferry. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Loony Dook was due to return at the start of this year, but was called off along with the rest of the festival after new Scottish Government restrictions were imposed on events.

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Unique Events and Assembly were awarded a new £4 million contract in June to run the Hogmanay festival for up to five years, but have had to grapple with government funding cuts for this year’s festival.

An official announcement on the final line-up for this year’s Hogmanay suggests people “who feel the need for a cold swim” on New Year’s Day can head to the “community-organised Portobello Dook.”

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The announcement adds: “There is no official Loony Dook taking place as part of the Hogmanay programme this year, but locals and visitors can enjoy community dips and dooks taking place in surrounding areas.”

The National Museum will be host a family-friendly 'Sprogmanay' event on New Year's Day. Picture: Robin Mair

Already confirmed for the Hogmanay festival are consecutive events in West Princes Street Gardens featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Altered Images on 30 December, the Pet Shop Boys on Hogmanay, and Tide Lines, Elephant Sessions and Hamish Hawk on New Year’s Day.

The official announcement from Unique and Assembly said: “We’re thrilled to announce further additions to the three-day Hogmanay programme, providing a packed programme of free activities on New Year’s Day and the return of some much-loved events.

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“It’s been wonderful to collaborate with so many local organisations, venues and artists to create new experiences for audiences to enjoy and explore on New Year’s Day.”

Council leader Cammy Day said: “Edinburgh’s Hogmanay truly remains the place to be to bring in the bells and this year will be no exception.”

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Assembly's Roxy venue will be hosting three days of Hogmanay events. Picture: Chris Watt
The Loony Dook has been pulled from this year's Hogmanay programme.

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