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

What Makes Christmas Magical? 7 reasons to book your Christmas event early

We are halfway through 2017 (eep!) and the best is still to come… namely, Christmas.

You may think it’s far away but at Prestige Venues & Events we spend all year gearing up for the festive season – you can feel excitement swelling in the office as slowly December approaches! We believe in being well prepared for the busiest (and best) time of the year and want to give you an opportunity to be so too. Here are 7 reasons to get organised, take advantage of advance-booking perks, and book your Christmas party early:

  1. Limited availability on Las Vegas Christmas.

Don’t gamble with booking The Apex this Christmas. Bury St Edmund’s number one music venue is only available to book on 4 evenings this December. At their seasonal and scandalous Las Vegas Christmas you can enjoy a welcome drink on arrival and a three-course meal for £48.00 per person, followed by a set from the resident DJ amongst casino tables and a rodeo bull.

  1. Free-ish time.

Make Christmas planning a priority in low season and free yourself up during the busiest time of the working year, allowing you to focus on what the season is truly about: fun, family, food and drink.

Christmas as Southampton Solent

Christmas as Southampton Solent

  1. Booker goes free.

At the recently refurbished Gateway restaurant, located within The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Christmas lunch for parties of 10 guests or more come with a special early-bird perk: the booker goes free! Lunch varies from a 2 course festive menu for £16.95 per person, to a full Hogmany feast for £95 per person.

  1. Don’t forget about winter working.

With all this talk of play, it’s easy to forget about work! The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh they have beautiful meeting rooms and conference spaces, as well as lunch, devilish min-morning and afternoon snacks, and (the best bit) a post conference drinks reception of mulled wine and mince pies.

  1. Something to look forward to.

As the cold weather sets in, or perhaps just prevails though summer… it’s great to have something to look forward to: for yourself, your team-mates, colleagues, friends or family. Book your Christmas party now and it will act as your metaphorical star of Bethlehem – guiding you through the following months.

  1. Don’t let it get any older.

This year’s theme at The Crystal, London’s most sustainable building, is Victorian! A witty contrast with the ultra-modern space, the Victorian Christmas theme includes a private dining room with holly garlands, ivy and pearls, a succulent feast, a Victorian theme DJ disco and a Magic Mirror Photo Booth, complete with full event management, cloakroom and security.

The Crystal in winter

The Crystal in winter

  1. Discount!

Book your Christmas party at Ascot before 31st August 2017 and get 10% discount. Pay only £68.50 per person (instead of £75). Ascot’s Enchanted Evenings Christmas parties include a cocktail upon arrival, three-course dinner, and half bottle of wine per person, a disco, full event management, complimentary cloakroom and car parking.

Discover more about Prestige Venues & Events Christmas packages and download our brochure here.

For full details of Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events’ Christmas offers, call the central enquiry hub on 0845 6055 699, email Venues&Events.Prestige.UK@Sodexo.com or visit www.prestigevenuesandevents.sodexo.com.

Showtime at the Amex

A galaxy of stars is set to sparkle at Brighton’s Amex Stadium in the run up to Christmas.

Throughout December, the venue – home to Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club – is hosting a packed programme of parties and disco nights.

We’ve also lined up a dazzling array of tribute acts, performing hits from legends such as Freddie Mercury, Dolly Parton, Lady Gaga and even Elvis ‘The King’ Presley.

The Showtime tribute nights take place each Friday and Saturday starting with the Queen frontman and Dolly Parton on 2 and 3 December respectively.

December 9 and 10 are earmarked for Madness fans with Elvis also entering the building on the second night.

On 16 December a Lady Gaga tribute will take to the stage while partygoers the following night will enjoy tributes to both Tina Turner and The Rat Pack – legendary 50s crooners Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jnr and Dean Martin.

Along with live performances, each It’s Showtime event will include arrival drinks, a four course meal created by the stadium’s award-winning team of chefs, Christmas novelties and a DJ and disco.

In addition, the stadium is holding Disco Fever parties – with music from a DJ – on 2, 3, 9 and 16 December, while its function rooms – all with views over either the pitch or the neighbouring South Downs – are available for private party hire for between 20 and 600 guests.

The American Express Community Stadium boast its own, on-site, main line railway station, linking it to the heart of London, along with complimentary on-site parking.

Tickets cost £49 each for the It’s Showtime nights and £39 for the Disco fever evenings. For further information about either experiences or the stadiums facilities visit the website.