It turns out Edinburgh is my kind of city. Wandering around the multi-tiered, cobbled streets of the Old Town yesterday afternoon I found my idea of heaven – vintage fashion, second hand books and creamy cakes all in a row.
I’m in Edinburgh for the Hogmanay celebrations which kicked off in phenomenal style yesterday with the Torchlight Procession. Led by growling Up Helly Aa Vikings in full battle regalia, approximately 8,000 paraded through the streets of Edinburgh holding flaming wax torches. To the beat of a bagpipe we marched to Calton Hill, with flamethrowers and the odd tune by the Proclaimers thrown in to keep us entertained along the way.
On the hill people gathered in clusters around a huge bonfire and burning effigy of 2014. We stamped our feet to Ellie Golding’s Burn and other fire related songs to keep warm as the torches began to expire. Then at 8.15 the sky was set alight with colours of red and gold exploding from the top of the hill; all was beautifully accompanied by Adele who was setting ‘fire to the rain’.
The morning had begun wet and I’ll admit I was worried about what that would entail for the evening’s activities. “It will be dry for tonight,” promised Unique Events, the company that have been masterminding Edinburgh’s Hogmanay for 21 years. Luckily the weather obeyed their orders but in the meantime they had an indoor activity for me to enjoy – the Scotch Whisky Experience. The morning began inside a whisky barrel as myself and several of the other bloggers here for blogmanay learnt all about the history and process of making whisky from the moving exhibition. The main event, however, was the whisky tasting – my very first. Following the advice of Scotsman and whisky aficionado, Robin McKelvie, I started with one of the most intense, smoky blends (an Ardbeg) and worked my way back to something milder and smoother from there. Whilst the peaty aftertaste of bonfire in my mouth was a unique experience, I am not sure it is one I will want to repeat anytime soon.
Impressive to us all, however, was the Whisky Experience’s jaw-dropping collection of scotch – the largest in the world in fact. It made some of my whisky loving Instagram fans thirsty just by looking at the pictures.
That afternoon I decided to avoid the drizzle by holing up in a local café and where I ended up in Lovecrumbs could not have been a better choice. Extra thick homemade sponges and cream cheese brownies were just some of the lovely crumbs on offer, all beautifully displayed in a vintage wardrobe (it was all I could do not to crawl in and never come out). Situated on West Port, Lovecrumbs is surrounded on both sides by bookshops, such as Edinburgh Books where Clarence the water buffalo is head of security. West Port flows onto Grassmarket, which is followed by the boutiques and bars of Victoria Street. I think I have found my favourite corner of the city.
The excitement for the main event today is palpable in the city. From 9pm the streets of Edinburgh will be taken over by the World Famous Street Party, stages are being set for the acts, which include Churches, Django Django and (and oldie but a goodie) the Pet Shop Boys. After tips from the locals during the #Scotlandhour twitter event I am armed with knowledge on how to stay warm, see the best of the fireworks and get a good hangover brekkie in the morning. Now all we need is for the weather to do as it’s told.
Have a wonderful New Years Eve wherever you are celebrating tonight. I’ll be back in the New Year to let you know how the rest of Hogmanay went or you can follow along live by searching for #Blogmanay.
#Blogmanay is brought to you by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and is supported by ETAG, EventScotland,Homecoming Scotland, VisitScotland, Edinburgh Festivals, Marketing Edinburgh and co-creators Haggis Adventures. Created and produced by Unique Events. As always, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.