Heading to the world’s largest New Year’s Eve celebrations this year? If you’re joining the many tens of thousands of people who celebrate Hogmanay in Edinburgh, you’ll want to make sure you’ve planned out your trip to make the most of the party (and the after-party!). As the most famous celebration of the holiday in the world, there’s a lot going on. Read our guide for tips on how to put together the perfect trip, from when to arrive to the most exciting way to cure a hangover.

Travelling in Edinburgh on Hogmanay

As part of the busy festive season, it’s essential to check timetables to figure out when and where transport services are running - not just on the night, but on the days before and after. For example, Princes Street is closed to traffic from 6pm on the 30th to prep for the party, and many bus services are rerouted with long delays in the city centre.

Luckily, Edinburgh is very walkable. We’d recommend taking your own two feet into town for the afternoon to save yourself the wait. And after the party is over, Edinburgh Trams are free, and Lothian Buses run a special service all through the night, getting you home for a flat fee of £5. With taxi queues stretching into the wee hours, even if you’re off the main route the bus will get you home faster.

Timing your evening

The weather usually isn’t great at this time of year, so it’s best to avoid standing out in the cold when you don’t need to and freezing for hours. The main Street Party event opens around 7:30pm, but we’d suggest finding a quiet(ish) pub for the first part of the evening. The Concert in the Gardens begins midway through the evening and gates are open for a few hours before the area is closed off at 11pm, so take a look at the setlist and decide what time you’d like to arrive to avoid the worst of the chill.

  • 4pm: Princes Street starts to prep for the party
  • 6pm: The Candlelit Concert begins
  • 6:30pm: Access restrictions come into effect
  • 7:30pm: Street Party starts
  • 8:30pm: The big outdoor Ceilidh dance begins
  • 9pm: Live music stages open with acts
  • 11pm: Access closed off to Street Party
  • 12am: Fireworks + everyone sings Auld Lang Syne

Bear in mind that in many cases you won’t be able to re-enter events if you leave, so if you’re hungry or need a dram to ward off the cold, it’s best to plan in advance. You can get hold of tickets over on the Edinburgh Hogmanay site. This year’s headliners are Franz Ferdinand, supported by Metronomy, and it’s set to be a night to remember.

Edinburgh skyline

Where to eat and drink on Hogmanay

Nowhere is going to be completely quiet - many people like to spend Hogmanay in their local - but there are a few areas to check out if you’re looking for a place away from the main hustle and bustle.

Avoid Rose Street and George Street as they’ll be completely chock full of people due to their location right behind where the party happens. You’ll have more luck moving further afield, starting from the lovely cocktail bars in Queen Street and beyond to Dundas Street, or the bottom of Broughton. If you’re off to the alternative location at the top of Calton Hill, moving further down Leith Walk to places like The Mousetrap or Boda Bar should see seats start to open.

If you don’t fancy some of the fantastic yet pricey street food that the main attractions have to offer, Edinburgh has plenty of great restaurants where you can get fuelled up for the evening - but book in advance to guarantee a seat. If you’re looking for a truly Scottish dining experience, give Sylvester’s a go. For something a little more relaxed, the Mussel and Steak bar will have something for you.

Content to stay put in the centre? The Street Party lets you BYOB, a cheaper option than the pop-up bars, but watch out because glass bottles aren’t allowed. Get to the supermarket early on the 31st as everything sells out quickly!

A group of friends drinking pints of beer

Make it a three day party

The Street Party runs until 1am, and if you’re in the mood for more, many bars and clubs keep going well into the night. But Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festival takes place over more than just the evening of the 31st. If you can, stretch your trip out into a three or four day holiday to see what the city’s other parties have to offer.

Whether or not you have time to check out the amazing Christmas Market that takes place in Princes Street Gardens, we’d recommend coming for the 30th of December to take part in the 40,000-strong Torchlight Procession that winds its way through town. It’s a ticketed event, but you can easily follow the route around if you simply want to watch.

If you’re feeling particularly wild on the 1st of January, nearby South Queensferry hosts the annual Loony Dook, where people dress up and jump in the Firth of Forth to shake off their hangovers and raise money for charity. Definitely one for the brave.

And if you’re looking for something quieter than the busy atmosphere of the main street party on the night itself, there’s an alternative gathering on Calton Hill in the city centre where you can watch the fireworks and soak up the holiday camaraderie for free. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes as it can get muddy!

Ready to ring in the New Year? Book your Edinburgh train early and save your pennies for the party.

Friends celebrating new year with sparklers

Back to Edinburgh

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