Edinburgh Castle Night

Edinburgh Castle has watched over the magical Scottish capital for centuries

by Martin Harrison

We take a look at some of the most satisfying activities for those looking to visit the Scottish city in the new year.

Edinburgh Hogmanay Fireworks from Carlton Hill

Hogmanay fireworks light central Edinburgh. Photo from Carlton Hill.

With its entrepreneurial spirit, smart population and affluent reputation, Edinburgh has been picked out by the Centre for Cities as one of the cities to watch for 2012/3.

Alongside London, Milton Keynes, Cambridge and Aberdeen, the Scottish capital is in a healthy position compared to the rest of the country, which is struggling with the deeper onset of recession and possible rifts with the European Union.

Being a smart city also means being one switched on to the powers of transport, harnessing sustainable energy sources and promoting solid and forward-thinking infrastructures. But aside from all this economically-approved stuff, on the ground, Edinburgh is quite simple a very pleasant place to visit and one which has long been a favourite with tourists and day-trippers.

Edinburgh Fringe Street Performers

Lively street performers abound at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Most famed for its festivals, held primarily over the summer months – the Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world welcoming several thousand shows – Edinburgh nevertheless has a cultural scope and stature which well exceeds its relatively small population of just under 500,000.

And one of the most famous – and favourite – times to visit the city is during Christmas and New Year, when it may be punishingly cold, but it’s also full of festive treats from great whisky tastings to huge Hogmanay parties and, in January, Burns Night celebrations.

As an extremely popular tourist destination, it also boasts a huge range of hotels and accommodations, from Holiday Inns to small guest houses and boutique-y boltholes. Here’s our top pick of New Year and festive activities to enjoy in the Scottish city:

The Hogmanay Street Party

For a real in-the-thick-of-it New Year experience, then spending £15 on the Edinburgh Street Party is a pretty good bet for a good night out. Taking place all across the low valley which runs through the middle of the city, spanning Waverley Station and nestled gently under the volcanic rock which balances the castle, and pushes up to Arthur’s Seat, you can party with 80,000 other revelers and enjoy plenty of live music.

This year’s event sees headline sets from The Maccabees, plus more support from Reverend and the Makers, Shooglenifty and many more. You can also bring your own booze (provided it’s not in a glass, so cans or plastic bottles only) and there are plenty of dance floors and little corners in the complex to have a good time.

Other Great Attractions

Edinburgh Scotch Whisky Experience

Over 300 scotch whiskies are available for tasting – the largest collection in the world.

I’d head straight to the Scotch Whisky Experience if I were you, where you can get a great taste for one of the area’s most famous exports. It’s in the centre of Old Town too, on Castle Hill, so ideal for combining with a visit to the Castle or a wander up to Arthur’s Seat. On your way back down, enjoy a very hearty soup or cake at Always Sunday on the High Street, an excellent budget café that will give you all the gumption you need to power through the cold.

And if you’re looking for a hotel in Edinburgh during the festive period, consider a stay at the Holiday Inn Edinburgh hotel.

Photo Credits: fireworks, zany characters, scotch

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Welcome to Travel Wonders
My name is Mark and I’m a keen traveller. In fact, over the last 25 years, I’ve travelled to every continent and over 80 countries. This blog is about the most memorable destinations – the places I regard as the travel wonders of the world. I’m also a keen photographer, and have taken nearly all the photos you’ll see. During my travels, I’ve met some incredible people, seen inspiring places, viewed extraordinary wildlife and scenery and had some amazing experiences, and I’m writing these stories not only to entertain but primarily to inspire others to discover their own travel wonders.
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