Official Guide to Edinburgh

How to celebrate New Year in Edinburgh 2020

11 December 2020

Hogmanay Fireworks

Hogmanay 2020 is set to be a New Year’s celebration like you’ve never seen before. Literally! And if you were planning on bringing in 2021 (and saying a fond-ish farewell to 2020) in the traditional way, chances are your plans for fun and frolicking have been put on ice till next year. 

Is Hogmanay 2020 cancelled completely? Definitely not!

Have a look at our round up of celebrations and activities to help you make the most of this traditionally fun time of year. This year’s list includes both virtual and real life events. Please remember to check ahead with venues before booking any tickets to make sure everything is going ahead as planned.

A festive treasure hunt: Edinburgh Search Party

Blow away the Christmas cobwebs and hit the streets of Edinburgh (socially distanced, of course) with your team of super sleuths. This interactive treasure hunt uses an app on your phone to give you the clues you need to find Rabbie, the tartan nosed reindeer.

The hunt begins at St Giles Cathedral, High Street, Edinburgh EH1. 

Register your team of up to 4 people

Light up the dark nights

With New Year street parties, public gatherings and firework displays cancelled this year, the winter nights might feel very dark and very long. Add some festive cheer into your celebrations by visiting Edinburgh’s magical Christmas light tours. These tours have availability on Hogmanay but we recommend getting tickets soon. 

Edinburgh Zoo Christmas Nights 2020 1

Edinburgh Zoo: Christmas Nights. This year’s theme is a magical journey to the North Pole, where you’ll pass through an enchanted forest. You can even party with the Penguins - who needs a street party anyway?

Book tickets on the RZSS website

Botanics Christmas Lights 2020

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh: Illuminated Trail. Make your way through a magical trail of light, music and surprises in the City’s very own botanical gardens. Grab a mug of something warm (mulled wine and hot chocolate for sale) and enjoy the sanctuary that comes hand in hand with nature. 

Book tickets on the RBGE website

Virtual Comedy - 20 in 20

Edinburgh based Framework Theatre Company have launched an online series of theatre productions called 20 in 2020. Every two days they launch a new 1 minute sketch, highlighting a moment from this annus horribilis. The grand finale takes place on Hogmanay so now there’s a really good reason for staying home! 

The company are fundraising for future productions and they’re donating 20% from all proceeds to Black Lives Matter. 

Check out Framework’s Facebook page here for all sketches. 

One for the clubbers: Optimo Espacio Hogmanay TVOD Party

Optimo is one of Scotland’s best known, and much loved, night clubs and record producers. The DJ duo have graced many an Edinburgh dance floor at Hogmanay over the years. The guys behind Optimo - Edinburgh born JD Twitch and JG Wilkes have a longstanding history with the city and host amazing nights here whenever they can. 

This year, they’re hosting a virtual Hogmanay party. Live stream from your front room, where there’s plenty of space on the dancefloor, always a seat when you need it most, and best of all - no queues for the loos!

Buy your tickets on the Mixcloud website

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

For obvious reasons, the Hogmanay Street Party extravaganza has been shelved for 2020, but Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will, for the first time in its history, move to an entirely online celebration with a series of spectacular ‘moments’ to be watched from home.

The free online series of shows promise never seen before, visually-spectacular moments every evening from 29th through to the 1st January. The stay-at-home event series will be FREE to watch and streamed so Hogmanay fans all over the world can tune in from the comfort and safety of their homes. The line-up includes internationally renowned actor and famed Doctor Who, David Tennant, award winning poet and Scottish Makar (Scotland’s Poet Laureate), Jackie Kay, Celtic fusion band, Niteworks and Scottish actors Lorne MacFadyen and Siobhan Redmond.

The traditional New Year’s Day steak pie

Steak Pie New Years Day

No matter what you do this Hogmanay, there’s one tradition we can count on not to be cancelled, and that’s the good old steak pie on New Year’s Day. 

There’s lots of theories around why it’s Scotland’s favourite food on the 1st January. Some say its circular shape is symbolic of a new cycle, while another theory compares its simple, but satisfying ingredients as the perfect values to hold onto as we start a new year. 

We’re more inclined to think it’s popularity is down to one simple fact - it’s easy to prepare and fills a hole after one too many whiskies the night before!

If you’re new to this tradition, then Crombie’s award winning steak pies are a great place to start, and will grace many an Edinburgh table (and beyond) on New Year’s Day. However, a quick chat with any local neighbourhood butcher will have you convinced that their steak pies are the best in town, so you won’t be disappointed wherever you go. Just make sure you order ahead so you can collect it before they shut on Hogmanay!

And if you’re catering for vegetarian or vegan diets on New Year’s Day, there’s no need to skip the tradition. Check out the options at The Pie Maker on South Bridge.  

The Pie Maker is on South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 (website)

Crombies of Edinburgh 97 Broughton Street, Edinburgh EH1 (website)

Redding the house

Don those rubber gloves! Rather than a spring clean, a New Year clean (or “redding the house”) is a common way to welcome the New Year. When open fires were common, people would clear the ashes and lay a new fire for the New Year. Cleaning the house also extends to clearing debts - the underlying message being to clear out the remains of the old year and welcome in the New Year on a happy note.

Auld Lang Syne

As the clock strikes midnight, it is traditional to sing “Auld Lang Syne”. Sung in a circle of linked arms that are crossed over on the final verse, it was written by the Scottish bard, Robert Burns, although he did not write the melody. This popular tradition of bidding farewell to the old year is now seen all over the world.

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,

We’ll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”

Happy New Year to you all!

Whatever you choose to do to celebrate Hogmanay in 2020 we hope you have a wonderful time. We wish you and your family a wonderful, peaceful and healthy new year.