RIVER OF LIGHT And HANDS OF FRIENDSHIP Open Edinburgh's Hogmanay With Torchlight Procession
Tonight the historic streets at the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town flowed with a flaming river of light as 40,000 people gathered for the magical Torchlight Procession in partnership with VisitScotland, providing a spectacular start to Edinburgh's Hogmanay.
At Holyrood Park where the procession culminated, torchbearers made the shape of two people reaching out a hand in friendship representing the theme of this year's Edinburgh's Hogmanay, Be Together. The scene was captured from a helicopter overhead creating an image to be shared with the world - a message of welcome and friendship from Scotland.
Leading the procession down the Royal Mile and into Holyrood Park, a 40 strong cast from Scotland's pioneering Celtic Fire Theatre company, PyroCeltica showcased a dazzling array of fire skills featuring fire fans, huge flaming claymores, fire staffs and a stunning fiery Mohican, set to the booming beats of Edinburgh's Harbinger Drum Crew whose flaming drums heightened the drama!
The Bigger RBL (Royal British Legion) Pipe Band, Cockenzie & Port Seton RBL Pipes & Drums, Scottish Borders Pipe Band, The Edinburgh Samba School, Hawick Scout Pipe Band, Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia Pipe Band, Glencorse Pipe Band, Preston Lodge High School Pipe Band, Edinburgh Postal Pipe Band and Pulse of the Place brought a range of traditional and contemporary styles to keep the procession moving to an eclectic Scottish beat.
In Holyrood Park the event's house band, The Torches, and guest artists Clanadonia entertained until the crowning glory of the fireworks lifted from Calton Hill framing the Edinburgh skyline.
50p from each ticket is donated to OneCity Trust which tonight raised over £9,400 for their work in Edinburgh fighting social exclusion.
Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, directors of Edinburgh's Hogmanay said:
"The sold-out Torchlight Procession was Edinburgh's Hogmanay's iconic opening event. A moment in the year when thousands of people came together at the start of Hogmanay to celebrate the end of the year and extend a hand of friendship physically in the flaming symbol created in Holyrood Park and metaphorically to their friends and neighbours. An image to be proud of, of warmth, welcome and friendship set against the beautiful backdrop of Edinburgh.
"We're delighted so many people turned out to take part and spectate and that through a 50p donation from each ticket sold we have raised over £9,400 to support the work of Edinburgh's OneCity Trust.
Our attention now turns to tomorrow when we look forward to welcoming the world to the Street Party hosted by Johnnie Walker, Ronnie Scott's Big Band, Ceilidh under the Castle and of course Mark Ronson's Hogmanay in the Gardens. It's all set to be an amazing night and for the first time we'll be live streaming the party allowing people from around the world to join us."
The Lord Provost of Edinburgh Frank Ross is Patron of the OneCity Trust. He said: "Once again, the sight of the Torchlight Procession provided a breath-taking start to Edinburgh's Hogmanay! It's a real privilege to lead the 40,000-strong procession along the Royal Mile to the beat of pipes and drums, ending with a fireworks finale in Holyrood Park. The event resulted in an incredible donation of £xx,000 to the OneCity Trust and I'd like to thank everyone who helped to raise funds this winter."
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland's Director of Events, said: "The spectacular Torchlight Procession has kicked off three days of fantastic Hogmanay celebrations across Edinburgh and we were delighted to continue our support of the event, which offered both locals and visitors the chance to be part of a uniquely Scottish tradition whilst also marking the start of the global New Year celebrations."
"Scotland and indeed Edinburgh's world-famous Hogmanay celebrations are a massive draw for those seeking to bring in the New Year in style, and further reinforce Scotland as the perfect stage for events. With lots in plan for the next few days including The Loony Dook and the start of Message from the Skies there's set to be something for everyone!"
Edinburgh's Hogmanay is supported by City of Edinburgh Council, EventScotland, Scotland's Winter Festivals and Creative Scotland through the Scottish Government's Festivals Expo Fund.