Edinburgh’s Hogmanay organisers Underbelly have revealed details of the Torchlight Procession.

On 30th December, the historic streets at the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town will flow with a flaming river of light as thousands gather for the magical Torchlight Procession in partnership with VisitScotland, providing a spectacular start to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay.  

Reminiscent of the ancient customs of Hogmanay in Scotland hundreds of years ago when festivities would include the lighting of bonfires, rolling blazing tar barrels down hills and tossing torches, fire has long been considered a symbol of rebirth and new beginnings and is at the heart of the opening of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations.

At Holyrood Park where the procession culminates, torchbearers will make the shape of two people reaching out a hand in friendship representing the theme of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, Be Together. The image will be captured from the air creating an image to be shared with the world – Scotland’s message of welcome and friendship against the backdrop of its capital city.

Leading the procession from just East of St Giles’ Cathedral down the Royal Mile and into Holyrood Park, is a 40-strong cast from Scotland’s pioneering Celtic Fire Theatre company, PyroCeltica whose Highland Warriors showcase a dazzling array of fire skills featuring fire fans, huge flaming claymores and fire staffs, set to the booming beats of Edinburgh’s Harbinger Drum Crew.

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, directors of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay said: “The Torchlight Procession is Edinburgh’s Hogmanay’s iconic opening event. A moment in the year when people come together at the start of Hogmanay and celebrate the end of one year and the start of a new, and this year a new decade too. The culmination will be thousands of people forming the image of two people reaching out their hands in friendship. An image to be proud of, of warmth, welcome and friendship set against the beautiful backdrop of Edinburgh.”

“We’re expecting tens of thousands on the procession with each person taking part contributing to the work of Edinburgh’s OneCity Trust. We look forward to welcoming everyone to the opening of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations.”

The Lord Provost Frank Ross is Patron of the OneCity Trust which works to fight inequality and exclusion in the City of Edinburgh. He said: “Once again, the sight of the Torchlight Procession will provide a breath-taking start to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay!  It’s a real privilege to lead the 40,000-strong procession along the Royal Mile to the beat of pipes and drums, ending with a fireworks finale in Holyrood Park.  Last year’s event resulted in an incredible donation of £30,000 to the OneCity Trust and I’m hoping we can look forward to even more funds being raised this winter.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this year’s Torchlight Processions, kicking off three-days of fantastic Hogmanay celebrations across Edinburgh and building on EventScotland’s long-term support of the event.

“Scotland is the perfect stage for events and the Torchlight Processions offers both locals and visitors the chance to take part in a uniquely Scottish tradition that also marks the start of the global New Year celebrations. It is truly a spectacle not to be missed.”

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is supported by City of Edinburgh Council and Creative Scotland through the Scottish Government’s Festivals Expo Fund.