Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is said to be one of the largest New Year parties in the world with an estimated 150,000 people in 2019 expected to visit the city.
Here are my top places to visit making the most of this beautiful city when visiting with your family during Christmas and New Year.
1. Hogmanay Torchlight Procession
This is one of the most incredible experiences you can do as a family during the New Year which starts the Hogmanay celebrations on the 30th December. Buy your torch tickets in advance as they can sell out quickly. (you can purchase tickets here)
The torch lit procession has such a happy, celebratory atmosphere as you follow the procession carrying torches through the city and up onto Calton Hill where you enjoy traditional music followed by stunning fireworks.
2. Bairns Afore
This great event for families returns at this years Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. On the 31st December at 5pm you can celebrate with the kids, with spectacular fireworks and family entertainment, and all afore bedtime. Kids will love the legendary comic duo and heroes of children’s TV, Dick and Dom, as they battle it out behind the decks to see whose tunes are the best!
The event finishes with a special early fireworks show lighting up the sky over Edinburgh Castle, allowing families to take their children home to bed before the late-night revelling gets underway. (you can buy tickets here)
3. New Years Eve Midnight Fireworks
Although the evening Hogmanay street party is perfect for adults with Mark Ronson headlining the concert at Princess Street Gardens, its not recommended for children as its really busy.
TIP – For families wanting to take part in the midnight celebrations and to get a great view of the fantastic fireworks take a trip up Calton Hill or Arthur Seat. Both offer tremendous views of the castle, the city and the fireworks.
If you are staying in the city over the New Year period then the iconic Balmoral hotel is one of the very best places to see the fireworks display with the family from the warmth and comfort of your hotel room.
The scene of New Year’s eve fireworks over Edinburgh castle bringing in the New Year is one of the most memorable scenes shown across the world.
4. Winter Wonderland
East Princess Street Gardens is transformed into a winter wonderland which is a must visit for families.
Our girls love this part of Edinburgh which has been transformed into a winter wonderland with a Christmas market, Christmas tree maze, ice rink, fairground rides, star flyer and the giant ferris wheel providing a fantastic vantage point to see this fantastic city.
5. Panto – Goldilocks and the Three Bears – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
This has been crowned as the best panto in Scotland with a truly magical mix of humour, fun and music. This is very popular and if you are lucky to be able to get tickets then it’s well worth a visit.
This year’s performance at the Kings Theatre is Goldilocks and the Three Bears and what makes the panto such a success in Edinburgh is its tried and tested cast including Allan Stewart, Grant Stott and especially the return of Andy Gray who make this an event that is not to be missed.
Kings Theatre Edinburgh, Edinburgh South – Tickets – £17.50 – £35.00*
6. Spectacle of Light – Dalkeith Country Park
This is one of our favourite places to take the kids when visiting Edinburgh – its a hidden gem located a 20 minute drive away from the city. The highlight for kids will be Fort Douglas, which will be one of the best adventure playgrounds that they will visit – but this is made even more magical over the Christmas and New Year period with the Spectacle of Light. This new festive light experience takes you on an amazing journey up amongst the woodland canopy in the magical Sky Maze. Marvel at the beauty of the Orangerie as you follow this visual feast around the gardens and across the river. See meteors, pixie lanterns and much much more!
7 December 2019 – 5 January 2020 – family tickets from £44.55
7. Giant Lanterns of China 2019 at Edinburgh Zoo
This winter, The Giant Lanterns of China returns to Edinburgh Zoo, an installation of over 450 dazzling lanterns – very similar to Longleat Festival of Light in Somerset, England. We love Edinburgh Zoo and this great new attraction allows you to see the zoo in a fascinating new way. These fabulous displays have been expertly created by 150 Chinese craftsmen from Sichuan, putting in a total of over 25,000 hours of work to create these works of art.
These enchanting sculptures of light include over 200 large scale animal lanterns including giant pandas, lions, penguins and flamingos. Surround by beautiful backdrops of insects, Chinese heritage symbols and stunning traditional archways to guide you around the Zoo. Read our review on what to expect
15 November 2019 to 26 January 2020
8. Candlelit Concert
See out the end of 2019 with a beautiful candlelit concert featuring classical music at the cities St Giles’ Cathedral on the Royal Mile.
31 December 2019, 6.00pm – Update – Tickets for this event have sold out. However additional tickets may be available from the box office.
9. First Footers Family Ceilidh
Experience the first celidh of 2020at this free event that all the family will love! Held at the magnificent McEwan Hall, blow away the Hogmanay cobwebs with your nearest and dearest, old and young and start the year off the right way with a wee dance to the foot-stomping live music of the brilliant Ceilidh Minogue.
1 January 2020, 11.30pm – Update – Tickets for this event have sold out. However additional tickets may be available from the box office.
10. Disney’s The Lion King
If you are in the city for an extended break over the Christmas and New Year period, then the kids will love to watch the landmark musical Disney’s The Lion King as it returns to Edinburgh’s Playhouse theatre for a limited run.
Set against the majesty of the Serengeti Plains and to the evocative rhythms of Africa, Disney’s The Lion King is a worldwide theatrical phenomenon and a great choice for families over the New Year.
5th December – 29th March 2020
11. Message from the Skies
Message from the Skies returns to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay on 1 January with Shorelines, a collection of letters to Scotland showing the countries relationship with the seas, waters and coasts and its maritime heritage.
What makes this free event which starts on New Years Day special is that it will be projected onto Edinburgh’s greatest buildings and landmarks.
1 January – 25 January – from dusk until 10pm – Free
12. Loony Dooks
Start the first day of the New Year with a difference with Loony Dooks, an Edinburgh tradition in the shadow of the Forth Bridges at South Queensferry. With temperatures often around freezing, brave dippers in fancy dress, scantily clad or even fully clothed brave the chilly water raising money for charity and getting rid of their Hogmanay hangover. Its a fun event that’s great to watch as a family and a unique way to start the new decade.
Other dooks also take place at Musselburgh’s dook at Fisherrow Back Sands and further down the coast at Dunbar, the dip takes place at 1pm.