Vikings, 10,000 fire torches, 40,000 fun seekers and an evening procession through Edinburgh, what better way for me to celebrate the penultimate evening of an incredible year?

Torchlight Procession Hogmanay

The Hogmanay torchlight procession is one of the highlights of the Edinburgh New Year’s Eve calendar. To join in with the pyromania you’ll need to get your booking in for a torch, well in advance, there are 10,000 available but they sell out fast.

Lucky for me I’d been invited as part of the #Blogmanay celebrations, an annual gathering of bloggers asked along to experience the celebrations for themselves. I throughly enjoyed my taste of celebrity as we joined the media pit for the photos at the start.

I was honoured to be invited right up front near the Lord Provost of Edinburgh. Yep, crazy hey? I spent the 30th December 2015 parading behind Shetland Islands Vikings and the Mayor of Edinburgh, ahead of about 39,850 people who’d all come to Edinburgh to walk the procession, and tens of thousands of others who’d come to watch it unfold.

The torchlight procession

Torchlight Procession Vikings

We started up by the Royal Mile, heading down en masse with our unlit torches ready for action. I’d already been warned that I was likely to be covered in wax before the evening was out, but with little other choice I just hoped for the best with the only coat I had. As you can see, carrying the fire went to my head a little…

Exploring the procession

We walked down the hill over Princes Gardens following the Vikings who’d kicked the night off. The Hogmanany tordhlight procession just keeps getting bigger every year – much to the joy of the health and safety team, I’m sure.

The procession winded all the way round to up on Carlton Hill, about a mile away. Up there the fire-related music was booming (Ellie Goulding’s ‘Burn’ stood out for me), the views over the city were incredible and I could still see the heartwarming sight of the thousands of torchbearers coming down the hill, parading the streets.

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In fact the parade went on for over an hour. The Vikings had been and gone and I was starting to walk back to the Royal Mile area while people of all ages were still following the procession down the street. I stood in the crowd and couldn’t believe they were still coming, although admittedly slower. If you join next year my top tips would be to get as close to the front as possible – better atmosphere and it’s that bit warmer from the higher concentration of torches too.

The Vikings

Torchlight procession of vikings

0I spoke to the two Vikings above (#2016BFFs4Ever) who told me they’d travelled for what ended up to be 24 hours from the Shetlands to join in. Up there the clans take it in turns to come down to Edinburgh every year. He told me it had been a long journey down, a long whisky-fuelled journey. I don’t think Hurricane Frank had been much fun for them on the ferry – he looked slightly traumatised,

The experience

Exploring Edinburgh

I’ve never walked through the streets of anywhere carrying a torch above my head and following Vikings before. And I think the olde streets of Edinburgh are the most scenic and provocative place in the world to give it a try. Being at the heart of the history of the city combined with my personal nostalgia from the last year, excitement for the next one and the opportunity to share it with some brilliant blogger friends at such a celebrated and loved festival as a VIP made the whole experience an emotional one for me, and one I definitely won’t forget in a hurry.

I was at Hogmanay as part of the Blogmanay team – it was AWESOME. I’d definitely recommend you go, if you’re looking for something different to do for the next New Year’s Eve.

#Blogmanay is brought to you by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and is supported by ETAG, EventScotland, VisitScotland, Year of Food and Drink, Edinburgh Festivals, and co-creators Haggis Adventures. Created and produced by Unique Events. As always, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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