A Scottish celebration: the history of Hogmanay

As the year draws to a close all eyes are on Scotland and her festivities, and for good reason. Scotland’s notorious New Year celebrations are better known as Hogmanay: for three days, revellers celebrate with street festivals, parties, and fireworks. Join us in looking at the holiday’s origins, traditions and where they apply to modern-day events and venues.

The celebration of Hogmanay allegedly dates back to the Vikings. However, in the 16th Century it gained further importance due to a religious dispute that resulted in Christmas being banned across Scotland. And it continued to be banned for 400 years! Since Christmas was no longer a national holiday, everyone was expected to work through the season and took time off to celebrate New Year instead. Though the ban was lifted in the 1950s, Hogmanay remains a key cultural festival today.

Hogmanay customs differ between regions, within families and friendship groups – some traditions being passed down from generation to generation. One custom you might have heard of is ‘first-footing’, which refers to the ‘first foot’ in the house after midnight on New Year’s Day. The visitor determines the household’s fortune for the year, and it’s customary to bring gifts for good luck. Other Hogmanay customs include cleaning the house to ward off bad spirits, and – of course – singing Robert Burns’ classic, Auld Lang Syne.

Traditionally, Hogmanay is celebrated from 31st December to 2nd January. Luckily, our Scottish venues cater for the entire Christmas season.

Aberdeen FC Large image

Aberdeen FC in the snow

First up, our Scottish stadiums. You’re promised a party to remember at Aberdeen Football Club. The club is available from November to January for a range of events – from festive gatherings to private dinners to a festive drive-in cinema, showing family friendly rib-ticklers like The Grinch, Elf and The Muppet Christmas Carol. Over in Glasgow, Hampden Park Stadium is hosting masquerade balls and karaoke parties throughout the festive season, including their signature sparkly dance-floor.

It’s undeniably Scottish to share your celebrations with as many loved ones as possible (the more the merrier was never more applicable), and two of our venues have taken this sentiment to heart with their shared parties. In the capital, Edinburgh Corn Exchange invites revellers to join over 850 guests for one of the capital’s biggest parties. This includes a three-course dinner and live entertainment. Hamilton Park Racecourse in South Lanarkshire are also offering shared parties in dates throughout November, December, and even one post-Hogmanay date in January, so you can continue celebrating into 2018. Highlights at the racecourse include their inaugural party quiz, so get your Hogmanay-themed team names ready.

For private events, there’s nothing more magical than a real Scottish castle. Dundas Castle is available for exclusive-use hire throughout December and January. With 17th Century opulence, 5-star service and quintessentially Scottish features, Dundas Castle is perfect for an unforgettable party.

Dundas Winter pano

The beautiful Dundas Castle in the snow

Looking for a traditional Hogmanay celebration on the day itself? Book with Perth Racecourse for their Ultimate Hogmanay Party on 31st December. Highlights include a traditional buffet, ceilidh, and a live piper while the midnight bells ring. Meanwhile in Edinburgh, the Royal Botanic Garden will be holding Hogmanay Dinners on various dates in December. The dinner includes a five-course banquet, after-dinner dancing, and a midnight toast with a view of the fireworks over Edinburgh Castle.

And – if you’re looking to hold a conference before Hogmanay, this year the Assembly Rooms Edinburgh is offering an exclusive day delegate package throughout December, including mulled wine and mince pies, because all work and no play…

However you’re planning to ring in the New Year, Scotland promises the world’s best celebrations, with fun, flair and a few drams of whiskey. We couldn’t possibly be anywhere else.

For more information on our Hogmanay,  Christmas and other seasonal packages, see our brochure here

For more information on Prestige Venues & Events packages call the central enquiry hub on 0845 6055 699, or email Venues&Events.Prestige.UK@Sodexo.com

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