Spectacular Torchlight Procession
Hogmanay: Biggest and friendliest party on the planet
Published Date: 31 December 2010
By Tim Cornwell
Edinburgh's Hogmanay organisers claimed a late surge in ticket sales for the Street Party celebration tonight after winter storms had stalled visitors' plans for the party in the capital.
As Scotland prepared for its biggest night of the year, celebrations kicked off in Edinburgh to the cool sounds of jazz and early fireworks. A huge crowd of people
snaked through the city in the annual Torchlight Procession to Calton Hill on a cold clear night that showed off Edinburgh's beauty to the full.
A New Year's Day "conversation" with crime writers Ian Rankin and Lin Anderson, discussing Edinburgh's place in life and art, became the latest Hogmanay event to sell out yesterday. All tickets have sold for both the Concert in the Gardens headlined by Biffy Clyro and The Keilidh, the open air ceilidh.
Hogmanay organiser, Unique Events' Pete Irvine, hailed the opening of the "biggest and friendliest party on the planet".
He said: "The Street Party was ahead of sales on last year until that bad weather. Then they stalled, so we were concerned, but in the last few days they are selling faster.
"We live in a late-ticket world now. At the beginning and at the moment, they are selling faster than previously."
However, Mr Irvine declined to give any details of how many of some 80,000 Street Party tickets had now sold. "No promoter will tell people, to start a mass panic or mass rush," he said. Tickets were still available yesterday for both the Street Party and the New Year's Day concert headlined by KT Tunstall.
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Places for the Loony Dook New Year's plunge have gone faster than before.
"There is no real competition for this. Round the world there are fireworks displays but there is nothing like this. We think the anticipation and the buzz is here and the city is full of people. We say we are the home of Hogmanay, which is a bit couthy, but we are the only New Year's celebration."
Edinburgh's Hogmanay has shrunk from five days to closer to three. Organisers will be watching to see if this year's figures live up to those of last year, when visitors from 55 countries bought tickets, and nearly 90 percent of accomodation in the city filled, generating an estimated £24 million worth of business for Edinburgh and £29m for the Scottish economy.
Backers claim the concentrated celebration will create a better atmosphere. While this year's numbers have yet to be tallied, there was no mistaking the enthusiasm among visitors.
"It's one of the things you have to do before you die," said Matthew Cole, a London journalist visiting the city with his girlfriend, Jackie Brown.
"I've been to Edinburgh before and loved the place, so wanted to come back at Hogmanay.
It's lovely to be here, it's very romantic."
"I've always heard that Edinburgh is a great place for Hogmanay, and I've never done it," Ms Brown said. "There's a whole atmosphere here."
The Scottish Government's Culture Minister, Fiona Hyslop, said: "This is the best place to party on Hogmanay. It's a fantastic opening of a whole series of festivities."