…by Jana / from Germany / studied at The University of Edinburgh on exchange as part of ERASMUS+
After Christmas, I came back to a quiet Edinburgh. Winter break here means an abandoned campus, free choice of seat in your favourite coffee shop and an empty hallway in my usually busy twelve people apartment. I came back to see the big thing at the end of the year, join the party, the crazy celebration that the sleepy city seemed to be getting ready for and that I had heard so much about: Hogmanay! That’s the Scottish word for the three day long New Year’s celebration. My best friend from back home in Germany came over to stay with me and we were thrilled. After showing her around the city we were ready for the big event. So welcome to Hogmanay 2018:
It started off with the Torch Light Procession on December 30th. Around 20.000 people joined in the procession and lit up the streets of Edinburgh with their torches. We were right in the middle of it and it was stunning to see all the lights around us. The procession ended at Holyrood Park where performances were held on stage. My personal highlight was the fire show of a Scottish Celtic artist group!
Next stop: New Year’s Eve. There was something going on everywhere in the city. It would be a real challenge not to get into a festive mood these days! My flat is right next to the Three Sisters, one of the major pubs in the city centre, and we dropped by for a few hours to join their twelve New Years around the world. A really cool idea! From early in the morning on, starting with New Zealand, they showed the New Year’s celebrations from around the world and ended up with twelve countdowns until it was time for Scotland itself. The DJ played 99 Luftballons for us and we rocked the dance floor!
Then it was time for the big street party. It’s like a massive festival and takes part on Princes Street and the surrounding area. I did expect it to be big but it was just massive! There were three different stages with really good live music and the whole night street performers made their way through the packed streets. It was a bit overcrowded sometimes, but overall we had a great time. My highlight: Seeing Gerry Cinnamon live on stage! He is a Scottish singer and ever since someone showed me one of his songs last semester I’ve been in love with his music. Listen to one of his songs if you want to get a glimpse of the Scottish accent! At midnight we watched some amazing fireworks right over the castle and with the skyline of Edinburgh in the background and my friend with me this was one of the happiest moments of my exchange! The party was over earlier than I expected (one of the few things I still haven’t gotten used to!), but that was okay, because on the next morning it just kept going!
We went to Queensferry to watch the Loony Dookers. This is the first swim of the year and brave people jump into the river in front of the Forth Bridge. Luckily it was a bright and sunny January 1st. The swimmers were all dressed up in funny and colourful costumes. What a cool thing to see! Later that day, while watching the darts championship finale (something that my friend dragged me to do, but honestly it’s not boring at all!) some locals taught us to say “cheers” in Scottish: Sláinte! What a great ending of a brilliant Scottish Hogmanay and the best start into my second semester at the university!
Now, there is only one thing left to say: If you have the chance to be in Edinburgh for New Year’s, take it! And happy new year to you all!