404 Hogmanay for families with young kids

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.


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


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.


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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  1. I would love to spend New Year in Edinburgh but I always worried it would be too much for small children so this is really reassuring, thank you! It looks great and I love your photos.

    • Thank you! We did miss out on the concerts and stuff, but I’m not usually into that stuff anyway. I definitely recommend it.

  2. That looks really cool and something we considered! We visited Edinburgh a few months ago for the first time and loved it (though the food is pretty similar to what we eat in Ireland). It’s a shame the hotels are on the pricey side there, that’s the only downside because from Dublin we can fly there super cheap!

    • It’s all in the timing for hotels, I think. And public transport is so easy (and I think some is even free on NYE) that staying outside the center is still nice.

  3. We just went to Edinburgh in November – loved it! I’m not one for big crowds but since this one’s not a mad rush (or a boring wait), it sounds like we’d be up for it! Did you freeze on Calton Hill? I remember it being quite windy up there!

    • I don’t particularly remember freezing on Calton Hill. The whole time we were in Edinburgh it was extremely windy (which lead to our arriving flight having to wait to land and our departing flight being delayed one day because of the weather). So, it’s quite possible that I was numb to the cold by then!

  4. Ann, thanks for sharing your experience at Hogmany with a young child. It is a festival that we are definitely interested in going to one day but with three young children ourselves I was not sure whether it is a child friendly event. Therefore thank you for confirming that it is an event that we could readily take our children!

    • It was reassuring seeing kids of all ages there, and those without kids were all in good spirits, so definitely a good place for families!

  5. That is way more people that I would thought would do this – and what a magical sounding event. Sometimes the simplest events are the most special.


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