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Hogmanay for families with young kids

As the official Edinburgh website puts it Hogmanay is, basically, a New Year’s celebration of,

THREE DAYS of spectacular events, incredible bands and amazing crowds from every corner of the globe.

Maybe not the most child-friendly sounding event, but I still think it’s worth a visit.

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Two years ago, our family was lucky to spend New Year’s in Edinburgh and it is something I want to repeat again soon. While we couldn’t (or didn’t want to, at least) attend the crowded concerts and many events, we still did a lot. We took in the city’s sites, visited their Christmas Markets, took a day trip to St. Andrews, and participated in one of the coolest events I’ve ever experienced.

Edinburgh’s Torchlight Procession

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To kick off the three days of “spectacular events”, the city hosts a torchlight procession. It starts in Old Town, winds down the streets and park until turning on to Princes Street, then marches past the shops, restaurants, hotels, and bystanders until it ends at the top of Calton Hill.

There is absolutely nothing as exhilarating as being part of this procession. Last year there were 35,000 participants. That’s a lot of people. Watching the lit torches ahead of and behind us, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, sent shivers down my spine.

My son had just recently turned one when we went. I worried that the crowds would be too much, but decided we could just step away at any moment if they were. It turned out they were never a concern. There wasn’t a mad rush to make it to the end. It was a peaceful walk.

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Once we started the climb to Calton Hill there were electronic signs letting us know event details. We made it to the top, extinguished our fires, grabbed a quick sandwich from the food truck (one of my best meals in Edinburgh), then listened to the live music, bagpipes, and watched the fireworks show over the city.

For most people reading this, it’s probably too late to book tickets for Edinburgh for Hogmanay this year. If you can make it there, the procession is a free event. The torches are available at a low-cost, but advance sales are sold out. There’s limited supply available the day of, so check there on December 30.

I highly recommend it.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE. I’LL SEE YOU IN 2014.

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