31 December 2008
Happy Hogmanay! & a Happy New Year!
My goodness what a day. I don’t know how to begin to describe the emotions, the feelings, the sights, sounds, smells & noises. Overwhelming in a word, but comfortable in a sense. There was an absolute vibration that permeated every aspect of every physical being throughout the city.

We walked the length of Princes Street nearly to Calton Hill before deciding we were famished. We had done some shopping along the way, picking up last little oddbits we’d promised people but were well and truly peckish by the time we’d settled into a beautiful little pub called the Guildford Arms just off Princes street tucked away in a little corner of Register Street. As it turns out, this was another pub on my list of “must visit” pubs that I’d simply forgotten about. But, the selection of Real Ales here was, to put it plainly, astounding. We stayed here people-watching, pint-drinking & postcard-writing for a number of hours.

By the time we were ready to leave, Princes Street had been closed off, evacuated and re-opened for the Party in the Streets: The largest New Year’s Eve Party in the world (or so it’s billed). With our wrist bands (the street party ticket) on and our Concert tickets in hand we walked into a smallish, but vibrant throng of people. The true crowd (in fact, the largest crowd ever for a Hogmanay event in Scotland) was still on its way.
Ferris Wheel
(This is one of many carnival rides set up for the event. This ferris wheel dominates Princes Street right next to the Walter Scott Memorial Tower. I had a very difficult time settling on which photo to use for the day but finally chose this one.)
We walked the length of Princes Street before deciding on some more food before taking our place in the Garden Enclosure. We ate our Scottish Beef Burger (with mustard and brown sauce) on the way into the Gardens, stopped at the beer trailer for a Red Stripe (the only beer available) and took our place against a centuries old Oak tree where we could see crowd, castle & concert. What an extraordinary event. The castle sent fireworks up once an hour to mark the hourly countdown; the bands on the stage played shortish sets in between firework displays; the crowd grew larger & larger and drunker & drunker as time went by (outside Bourbon Street in New Orleans, I’ve never seen so many stumblers in one place). Groove Armada, the headliners for our stage, began their performance at approximately 2320. They played right until 2357, when they went silent, the stage went dark and a Master of Ceremonies came forward to kick off the countdown. At exactly midnight, the Castle simply erupted in a three minute fireworks barrage the likes of which I have never seen before. Immediately following, the largest Auld Lang Syne choir (all the ticket holders) ever assembled began the singing of the traditional song belting it out in pure raw, beautiful emotions that even as I’m writing this many hours later brings a tear to my eye and bumps to my flesh. As the final refrain ended, a lone piper emerged on stage and piped “Flower of Scotland” – the crowd went rabid crazy and sung louder and more fiercely than ever before. Groove Armada joined the piper on stage in the dying skirl and renewed the concert in a furious flurry of sound and emotion. I cannot do justice to the power of the event with mere words, it simply must be experienced. Now, some hours later, I’m awake and still trembling with exhaustion from the sheer emotional toll of the event. This has truly been one of the most brilliant events of my life.
Slainte Mhath!

Cheers.

~KR (Written on 1 January 2009)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.3 sec (3/10)
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 14.3 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Exposure Bias: 4/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire