Edinburgh gets set for Hogmanay celebrations

Edinburgh is set to welcome tens of thousands of people to celebrate Hogmanay, amid criticism of how the UK’s biggest new year street party has been organised.

The celebrations, featuring performances by Mark Ronson, Marc Almond and Idlewild, will culminate with the traditional firework display.

More than 3,600 fireworks will be let off from Edinburgh Castle at midnight, with street parties, music and ceilidhs happening in more than a dozen city centre streets.

The festivities began in the city on Monday as around 40,000 people joined a torchlit procession which culminated in them forming the shape of two humans reaching out a “hand of friendship”.

Leading the parade down the Royal Mile and into Holyrood Park was a 40-strong cast from Celtic Fire Theatre company PyroCeltica.

Celebrations welcoming the start of the new decade will include artists playing on three separate stages, including DJs Rudimental and Ronson – the latter creating a soundtrack to accompany the midnight fireworks.

Street theatre, circus acts and a ceilidh party will also take place up until midnight, with an “official after party” continuing into the early hours at McEwan Hall.

Met Office forecaster Rebecca Reilly said the weather is expected to stay dry, with clear skies and sunshine during the afternoon, although it will feel colder than recent days.

Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations
Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations

Organisers of the three-day event, Underbelly, have faced criticism for creating “unnecessary confusion” for residents in the affected area, who will need passes to access their homes during the night.

Conflicting advice, and uncertainty around how many passes residents could have, caused concern for people living within the security zone covered by the festival.

Underbelly, which also runs the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, had suggested additional passes for extra guests would be at the discretion of organisers and applications could be screened by police.

The organisers acknowledged there had been “misunderstandings” and rewrote website guidance following the backlash, which now reads: “If you are planning a private function within your home or you are entertaining guests or you have a household larger than six, additional access passes are available.”

3. Residents rights & access to their homes during any event have to be prioritised & properly planned for. It is unacceptable that the guidance for residents didn’t accurately reflect this, creating unnecessary confusion. Any changes required to avoid a repeat will be adopted.

— Cllr Adam McVey (@adamrmcvey) December 30, 2019

Edinburgh City Council leader Adam McVey said the event had been affected by “poor communication”, adding: “It is unacceptable that the guidance for residents didn’t accurately reflect this, creating unnecessary confusion.”

An Underbelly spokeswoman said: “We have never and would never prevent residents and their guests from accessing their homes.

“The arena area needs to be secure, which is why for many years there has been a system in place for residents to get access passes which ensure them quick and easy access past security to their homes.

“We are sorry if this has been misunderstood but we want to be very clear that our intention was never to prevent access.”