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Monday, 8 December 2008

Britain Calling - Dec 08


London’s Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland returns to London’s Hyde Park this Christmas. From 22 November to 4 January, London’s largest ice rink will be open for skating sessions. There will also be a 50-metre (165-ft) observation wheel offering views over London and the 142 hectares (350 acres) of Hyde Park.
Father Christmas will be at the Hyde Park bandstand along with his elves every day until Christmas Eve. There will also be a toboggan ride and themed rides for children. For shopping, eating and drinking, the German market will be double the size of last year’s market. Indoor and outdoor bars will serve food and drink. The trees along Serpentine Row will be decorated with Christmas lights.
In 1536 Henry VIII took Hyde Park from the monks of Westminster Abbey to use as a private hunting ground for deer and wild boar. Charles I opened the park to the public in 1637. When William III moved his court to Kensington Palace in the late 17th century, he found that his walk to St James’s was very dangerous, so he had 300 oil lamps installed, creating the first artificially-lit highway in Britain.
Last year, Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park attracted more than half a million visitors. It will be open this year daily 10am–10pm (closed 25 December). Entry to Winter Wonderland is free, with tokens for all rides and attractions available to buy on the day. Advance booking is recommended for the ice rink and giant wheel. Tickets for one-hour skating sessions cost £12.50 adults in peak time (£10 off-peak), children £7.50 at all times.
Tel: +44 844 847 1771
Website: www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com


Christmas at Brown’s
Brown’s in London is offering special Christmas packages for visitors spending the festive season in the historic luxury hotel. Guests staying for two consecutive nights between 20 December and 11 January will be offered a third night free. Prices start from £330+VAT per room, per night.
Families booking a Deluxe Room or Classic Suite will not pay for another interconnecting room for the children. Children under three eat free, and food and drink for children under 12 is half price. Prices start at £499+VAT per night, based on two adults and two children, with Continental breakfast.
During December, The English Tea Room will be serving Traditional Afternoon Tea with a festive twist. Tea is served 2–6pm Monday to Friday and 1–6pm at weekends. Prices from £35 per person.
The Spa at Brown’s will be offering a 90-minute Christmas Cranberry Pedicure at £85 and a 41/2-hour party preparation package called Red Carpet, which includes a body polish, a relaxing back massage, a facial and a luxury manicure and pedicure and costs £315.
The hotel is composed of 11 Georgian town houses, the first of them acquired in 1837 by Lord Byron’s butler James Brown. Guests at Brown’s have included Napoleon III after the Franco-Prussian war, Alexander Graham Bell (who made the first European telephone call from the hotel), Theodore Roosevelt, Rudyard Kipling (who wrote The Jungle Book during his stay), Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Emperor Haile Selassi and Agatha Christie.
Brown’s Hotel
Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BP
Tel: +44 20 7493 6020
Website: www.roccofortecollection.com


Carols round Trafalgar Square’s tree
Every year since 1947 the people of Norway have given the people of London a Christmas tree in gratitude for Britain’s support for Norway during World War II. The tree is displayed in Trafalgar Square in the heart of London.
On Thursday 4 December, the choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields will lead the carol singing at the official lighting of the tree. From 5 December to Christmas, more than 40 groups of carol singers from across the country will take turns to sing carols by the tree and raise money for charity.
On 7 December there will be a torchlight procession at 5.20pm from the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields to Trafalgar Square for the blessing of the nativity crib and carols with the St Martin-in-the-Fields choir and the Salvation Army Band, followed by a service in the church at 6.30pm.
The tree is traditionally a Norwegian spruce (Picea abies) over 20 metres (65ft) high and 50–60 years old. It is selected from forests near Oslo several months, even years, in advance. The Norwegian foresters who look after it describe it fondly as ‘the queen of the forest’. It is brought to the UK by sea, and put up in Trafalgar Square by a specialist rigging team using a hydraulic crane. It is decorated with energy-efficient light bulbs and stays in the square until just before the Twelfth Night of Christmas (5 January) when it is taken down for recycling as compost.
The 18th-century church of St Martin-in-the-Fields has recently been refurbished. Its adult choir, in which all the singers are volunteers, sings to a high professional standard.
St Martin-in-the-Fields
Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ
Websites: www.smitf.org
www.london.gov.uk/trafalgarsquare/events/xmas.jsp


A mixture of music in Spitalfields
The Spitalfields Music Winter festival is an eclectic mix of concerts and events that take place in a variety of venues in a historic quarter of London’s East End.
The concerts cover a broad range of western classical music, from early music through to specially commissioned world premieres, as well as jazz, Chinese music, an outdoor community event in Spitalfields and a weekend of singing. This winter’s performers include conductor John Eliot Gardiner, the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists.
The venues include Toynbee Hall, Bishopsgate Institute, Crispin Place and Christ Church – designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor in the early 1700s and refurbished at a cost of over £10 million in 2004.
Communities fleeing from persecution have been settling in the Spitalfields area since the Huguenots arrived from France in the 1600s. Since then, Jewish, Somali and Bangladeshi communities have made Spitalfields their home and the area now has a thriving artistic community as well as diverse restaurants that include Japanese, Ethiopian and Greek food. Brick Lane is well known for its Bangladeshi and Indian curry houses.
Spitalfields Music Winter Festival, various venues
12–19 December and 5–9 January
Tel: +44 20 7377 1362 (box office)
Website: www.spitalfieldsmusic.org.uk


Shopping for silver in the City of London
The London Silver Vaults hold the largest single collection of silver for sale in the world. For over 50 years the vaults have been open to the public, and they are a popular and unusual venue for Christmas shopping.
There is a large variety of silver for sale within the vaulted walls, from 17th-century to modern classic pieces, from a champagne swizzle-stick to a full-size silver armchair. There are more than 30 dealers in the vaults and all are family-run businesses with generations of experience. Each dealer has specialities in their stock, and they are highly competitive. Prices are lower than in most other locations in the UK. Some dealers also sell jewellery and watches.
The vaults are below ground and were built in 1876 to offer strong-room facilities for the safeguarding of silver, jewellery and private documents, for London’s rich and famous. Over time, a number of London’s leading silver dealers to the trade found the Vaults a secure place from which to do business. Although some of the old Victorian vaults survive, the building was redeveloped after the Second World War, and the Silver Vaults as they are known today opened in 1953.
They are in the same historic area as the Law Courts, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Inn (frequented by 18th-century writers Johnson and Boswell) and St Paul’s Cathedral. The London Silver Vaults are open for business Monday to Friday 9am–5.30pm and on Saturday mornings 9am–1pm.
The London Silver Vaults
Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1QS
Tel: +44 20 7242 3844
Website: www.thesilvervaults.com


Christmas in an Elizabethan home
Burton Agnes Hall, an Elizabethan house in East Yorkshire in the north of England, has been the family home of the Cunliffe-Listers since it was built over 400 years ago. The house contains art, furniture and porcelain collected by the family over five centuries and includes carvings commissioned when the Hall was built, French impressionist paintings, and contemporary furniture.
The Hall will open to visitors for five weeks before Christmas. The family will gather natural products from the Hall’s gardens and estate to make original decorations for the house. There will be a Christmas tree from the estate’s forest and the original Elizabethan and Jacobean quarters will be decorated in traditional style. The barrel-ceilinged Long Gallery will have contemporary Christmas decorations to complement the collection of modern and impressionist art.
The author and former editor of The Times Simon Jenkins believes Burton Agnes Hall to be the perfect English House and one of the top 20 English houses alongside Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, Chatsworth and Blenheim Palace.
Christmas opening times: 11am–5pm daily from 14 November to 21 December (late opening to 7.30 on 19 December with mulled wine in the courtyard). Admission £6 adults, £5.50 concessions, £3 children, under-fives free.
Burton Agnes Hall
Burton Agnes, Driffield, East Yorkshire YO25 4NB
Tel: +44 1262 490324
Website: www.burtonagnes.com


A scrum in the streets of Kirkwall
Every Christmas Day and New Year’s Day the boys and men of Kirkwall, in the Orkney Islands of Scotland, play the traditional Ba’ game in the streets of the town.
A Ba’ is a hand-made cork-filled leather ball. The boys and men of the town are designated ‘Uppies’ and ‘Doonies’ depending on where they were born. The aim of the game is to carry the Ba’ to their own territories at the opposite ends of Kirkwall. Aaprt from that, there are very few formal rules.
The Ba’ begins at 1pm exactly when the cathedral bells chime. More than 200 players join the game and the scrum often surges through the town’s narrow lanes for several hours before a conclusive victory position is reached. Players have been known to try to reach their goals via the rooftops. The Ba’ is awarded after the game to a player in the winning side who has been a notable participant over a number of years.
The game in its present form has been played since about 1850, but a looser form of football was played on the Ba’ Lea (meadow) for many years before that.
The Ba’: 1pm, 25 December and 1 January
Kirk Green, Kirkwall, Orkney Islands
Website: www.bagame.com


The magic of panto in east London
The festive season is a time for pantomime, a very British theatrical form based on popular fairy stories and folk legends.
Panto, as it’s known, always has a simple plot. The heroine is played by a pretty young woman but the male hero is also played by a woman – and the eccentric Dame character by a man. There is much audience participation with booing the villain, warning the hero when the villain is behind them and arguing with the Dame. Favourite pantomimes include Cinderella, Aladdin and Mother Goose.
Pantomime possibly dates back to the middle ages, and has borrowed ideas from the Italian Commedia dell’Arte and British music hall theatre. Theatres across the UK stage pantos during the Christmas season.
Mother Goose is the choice for this year’s panto in the refurbished Hackney Empire, in east London. The Empire was designed by Frank Matcham, one of the world’s most inventive theatre architects, and built in 1901. Charlie Chaplin played there, so did Stan Laurel. The theatre fell into disrepair but, after a £15-million refurbishment, re-opened in 2004. Mother Goose runs from 29 November to 10 January, with tickets from £9 to £21.50.
Hackney Empire
291 Mare Street, London E8 1EJ
Tel: +44 20 8985 2424 (box office)
Website: www.hackneyempire.co.uk
For all pantomime listings for the UK: www.bigpantoguide.co.uk


Shetland’s blazing Viking ship
Up-Helly-Aa takes place in Lerwick, Shetland in the north of Scotland on the last Tuesday of every January. Up to 1,000 costumed ‘guizers’ carry flaming torches and drag a Viking galley (ship) through the Shetland capital.
They are organised in squads and led by ‘Vikings’ carrying axes and shields and wearing winged helmets and sheepskins. When they reach their destination, they hurl their torches into the galley and set it alight.
Once the blaze has died down, all the squads file off to local halls where they perform their set pieces, singing special songs or performing a dance routine they have prepared. The festival ends with a big ceilidh (party with song and dance) that goes on late into the night.
The Up-Helly-Aa may hark back to the Viking practice of burning a galley as a sacrifice to the sun. But it has been suggested that it is a ‘new’ festival introduced by men returning from the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century, which grew and adapted to reflect the strong cultural links between Shetland and its neighbouring Scandanavian countries (the Shetland Islands are on the same latitude as southern Greenland).
There are similar Viking fire festivals throughout Shetland, but Lerwick’s Up-Helly-Aa is the biggest and oldest torchlight procession of its kind.
Up-Helly-Aa, Lerwick, 27 January
Websites: www.uphellyaa.org
www.visitshetland.com


A seasonal house party, Devon-style
Combe House is an Elizabethan Manor in a 1,500-hectare (3,500-acre) country estate near Exeter, in Devon in the south west of England. The small hotel has room for 32 guests and will be open over Christmas.
The three-night house party starts on Christmas Eve with a Devonshire clotted cream tea in front of the Great Hall’s log fire and huge Christmas tree. The catered party includes a candlelit Christmas Eve dinner in the Great Hall, Devon country breakfasts, entertainment, and a five-course gourmet Christmas lunch. Tea on Boxing Day (26 December) will be by lamp and candle light in the restored Georgian kitchen, followed by a fun and glamorous Monte Carlo-style ‘casino’.
The festive menu for Christmas lunch will be created by Combe’s two Master Chefs of Great Britain using the finest local produce – fresh fish from Brixham, poultry from Silverton, local Ruby Red Devon beef and hand-made West Country cheeses.
The three-night house party is priced from £1,085 per person sharing a double/ twin room in the Linen Wing and £1,315pp for a suite in the main house. The tariff includes accommodation, all meals and entertainment, and wines with Christmas Eve Dinner, Christmas Day Lunch and Boxing Day Dinner. Extra nights are available and dogs are welcome in selected rooms.
Combe House won the South West Tourism Excellence Award for Small Hotel of the Year in 2007/8. The hotel is near the World Heritage Jurassic Coast and near Dartmoor National Park. The nearest airport is Exeter and there are trains to Honiton from Waterloo, London.
Combe House
Gittisham, Honiton, Nr Exeter, Devon EX14 3AD
Tel: +44 1404 540 400
Website: www.thishotel.com


Christmas in a London apartment
The Cheval Group offers luxury serviced apartments in Kensington, Knightsbridge, Chelsea and the City. To help guests visiting London over the Christmas period, the group is offering to supply guests with the essentials they will need for a traditional British Yuletide – from ingredients for a Christmas day meal to a fully decorated Christmas tree.
Turkey is the classic British dish for Christmas day and the Cheval Group can supply guests with a black-feathered bronzed turkey reared at Kelly’s Farm in Essex. All the apartments have fully equipped kitchens and dining areas. A variety of Christmas hampers from Harrods is also on offer. The hampers include a traditional Christmas pudding, mince pies, brandy butter and champagne truffles.
Trees will be supplied by specialists Trim-a-Tree and decorated to order with ornaments, glass baubles, LED lights and a Christmas star. Prices start at £340 for a 1.8-metre (6ft) decorated tree. Turkeys cost from £50, hampers from £75. The Christmas trees and turkeys must be arranged a month in advance.
The Cheval properties are close to some of London’s most famous churches and cathedrals. Calico House is by St Paul’s Cathedral, Phoenix House near Holy Trinity Church on Sloane Street. If guests need to walk off the Christmas calories, Hyde Park Gate and Thorney Court are opposite Hyde Park and near the Princess Diana memorial.
Website: www.chevalgroup.com


Flaming barrels to welcome the New Year
In Allendale Northumberland, in the north east of England, the New Year is welcomed in with a procession of men carrying whisky barrels of blazing tar on their heads.
The 45 fire carriers are known as Guisers, and their right to carry the barrels is passed down from father to son. On New Year’s Eve they don colourful costumes and process to an unlit bonfire – the Baal fire – where just before midnight each man tosses his flaming headgear on to the fire as everyone shouts ‘Be damned to him who throws last!’
At the stroke of midnight all join hands and dance round the fire singing the traditional New Year song Auld Lang Syne. It is believed that the ceremony, which thousands now come to watch, could date back to Viking times and have its roots in pagan fire-worship.
Tar Barrel Ceremony
The Square, Allendale NE47 9BD
Website: www.visitnortheastengland.com


Christmas champagne high above London
From 24 November to 5 January the London Eye, Europe’s largest ferris wheel, will be decorated as a giant Christmas present with a Christmas bow. Visitors to the Eye will be able to sip champagne and nibble chocolate truffles in a private Mistletoe Cupid’s Capsule. To add to the romance, they will be presented with a hand-tied spray of mistletoe – symbol of fertility and life-force. It is a midwinter tradition for couples to kiss under a sprig of mistletoe.
Between 24 November and 4 January the Eye is also offering visitors a Mulled Wine Flight and a Christmas River Cruise. The Christmas River Cruise is a 40-minute circular sightseeing trip on the River Thames, passing London landmarks that include the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. Audio commentary is available in French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Japanese and Mandarin.
The London Eye is the fourth tallest structure in London, and carries 3.5 million customers a year. This is the same number of passengers as 6,680 fully-booked British Airways Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets.
Mulled Wine Flights cost £28 per person. A Mistletoe Cupid’s Capsule costs £299 for up to 25 guests. The Christmas River Cruises cost £12 adults, £6 children 5–15, under-fives free.
The London Eye is open daily except Christmas Day. Opening hours until May are 10am–8pm.
The London Eye
Riverside Building, Westminster Bridge Road,
London SE1 7PB
Tel: +44 870 5000 600
Website: www.londoneye.com


Rochester celebrates Charles Dickens
Rochester in Kent will be celebrating the life of author Charles Dickens with a Christmas Dickensian festival. There will be entertainment, readings and song and dance in the streets of the town.
There will be parades and processions on both days of the festival and an open-air Carols for Christmas session with guaranteed snowfall by Rochester Cathedral.
A Grand Parade at noon will feature many of Dickens’ famous characters who will walk through the town to Rochester Castle gardens. There will also be a candlelit parade at dusk leading to the open-air carol concert.
Charles Dickens lived in Rochester as a child, and spent the last years of his life in nearby Higham. Many of his novels include references to the city and the surrounding area.
Rochester’s Dickensian Christmas
6–7 December, Rochester, Kent
Tel: +44 1634 843666
(Medway Visitor Information Centre)
Website: www.medway.gov.uk
Email: visitor.centre@medway.gov.uk


Floral decorations in a mansion house
The neo-classical mansion house at Tatton Park, in the north-west of England, is to be traditionally decorated with Christmas garlands and floral decorations using foliage from the parkland and gardens. The mansion house will be open for weekday visits that will include an introductory talk by a specialist tour guide and decoration demonstrations in the kitchens by Tatton’s floristry team.
The house contains rich furnishings and an important collection of paintings and books. The Tatton Park was the family home of the Egerton family from 1598. Wilbraham Egerton (1781–1856) acquired paintings by Van Dyck, Poussin, Chardin, Carraci and Guercino. Maurice, the last Lord Egerton, bequeathed the house and estate to the National Trust in 1958 and it is now managed by Cheshire County Council
This December visitors can also see the house by candlelight when musicians and carol singers will entertain and the Italian Garden will be specially lit. Tatton’s shops will open late and there will be a Gift Fair open each evening. Admission charges apply.
Tatton Park, which receives 750,000 visitors a year, includes the Georgian mansion house, the Tudor old hall, gardens, a 1930s rare breed farm, a 400-hectare (1,000-acre) deer park and speciality shops. Herds of deer have lived on the estate since the 13th century.
Tatton Park
Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 6QN
Tel: +44 1625 374400
Website: www.tattonpark.org.uk


Queen Victoria remembered at Windsor
This Christmas Windsor Castle will celebrate the festive season with Victorian-themed displays and activities. The displays includes Queen Victoria’s winter sleigh which is being shown to the public for the first time. The Queen and her consort Prince Albert spent many Christmases at Windsor.
On 8 December, the Castle’s Christmas tree from Windsor Great Park will go on display in St George’s Hall. Windsor is closely associated with the tradition of the Christmas tree, as Prince Albert is credited with popularising tree decorations.
Exclusive evening tours of the State Apartments will also be available to visitors in the run-up to Christmas. For the first time visitors will be guided through the State Apartments after the castle has closed. The tours take place on 9, 10, 17 and 18 December, price £50.
Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, and one of the official residences of Her Majesty The Queen
The castle is open daily 9.45am–5.15pm except 12, 25 and 26 December. Admission £14.80 adults, £8.50 children under 17, under-fives free, family ticket £38.10.
Queen Victoria’s winter sledge will be on display from 9 December to 6 January.
Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 1NJ
Tel: +44 20 7766 7304
Website: www.royalcollection.org.uk


Skating at a London landmark
The British winter weather rarely stays below freezing for long, but there will be plenty of opportunity to skate on ice this winter, with festive ice rinks in many cities and in many major landmarks.
The Ice Rink at Somerset House in London, for example, will be open for 10 weeks until 25 January. Each year over a quarter of a million visitors come to grand 18th-century courtyard of Somerset House to skate or to watch friends and family on the ice.
This year Skate at Somerset House is presented by Tiffany & Co, and Breakfast with Tiffany early on Saturday mornings offers free entry for children, free hot chocolate and a glass of champagne for parents. Other events this year include a daytime Somerset House Skate School for learners, a Penguin Club for toddlers and, on selected Fridays, DJ Nights with sets by Raj & Pablo.
Ticket prices: adults from £10.50, children from £7.50. Family ticket from £30.
Somerset House
Strand, London WC2 1LA
Tel: +44 844 847 152 (bookings)
Website: www.somersethouse.org.uk


Beaulieu travels back in time
Beaulieu, one of southern England’s leading day visitor attractions, is dressing up in Victorian style for Christmas. Children will be invited to wear Victorian costume in Palace House, which will be decorated in festive period style. There will be carol singing round the grand piano and old-fashioned parlour games in the Lower Drawing Room. Visitors will be able to talk to characters from Victorian times to discover what life was like at the house in the 19th century. Meanwhile, Beaulieu’s motor museum will be showing visitors what it was like to drive in the very early days of the motor-car.
Palace House was formerly the 13th-century Great Gatehouse of Beaulieu Abbey, and has kept the style in its later Victorian additions. It has been owned by Lord Montagu’s family since 1538, when Sir Thomas Wriothesley, later 1st Earl of Southampton, bought the estate after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Beaulieu is in the New Forest, the UK’s newest National Park, and near the popular tourist destinations of Bournemouth, Southampton and Winchester. The estate includes the National Motor Museum, Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey.
Beaulieu is open every day except 25 December and the Christmas celebrations run from 20 December to 4 January. Tickets include entrance to the National Motor Museum, Palace House and Gardens and Beaulieu Abbey and Monastic Life Exhibition, plus various rides and drives. Admission costs adults £15.50, age 13–17 £9.25, children 5–12 £8.25. A family ticket costs £42.25.
Beaulieu
Brockenhurst, Hampshire SO42 7ZN
Tel: +44 1590 612345
Website: www.beaulieu.co.uk


A winter fair beside the Thames
A Bankside Winter Festival will take place along London’s river Thames outside Tate Modern near Shakespeare’s Globe, from 12 to 21 December. There will be winter market stalls selling arts and crafts as well as festive food. A special bar will offer mulled wine and ale.
The winter market will open with a lantern parade. A procession of local schoolchildren will celebrate the area’s history and the Frost Fairs that took place when the river Thames was frozen in the 16th century and during cold winters in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Londoners used to skate on the ice and traders set up stalls selling drinks and souvenirs.
On 13 December there will be a procession of traditional Thames Cutters (boats) carrying Frost Fair flags on the river between Southwark and Blackfriars Bridges.
Bankside Winter Festival, 12–21 December. Winter Market: Mon–Wed 10am–7pm; Thur–Sat 10am– 8pm; Sun 10am–6pm. Lantern parade 12 December 4.30 pm. Thames Cutters procession 13 December 11am.
Website: www.visitbankside.com


A 19th-century castle Christmas
Muncaster Castle in England's Lake District will be helping visitors celebrate Christmas in Victorian-style with a series of specially-themed tours.
Muncaster’s Victorian Christmas Tours will take people back to 1885, where they will see the castle through the eyes of a group of 19th-century servants.
The tours will include the Billiard Room and the Great Hall and offer a chance to see the castle decorated for Christmas as well as enjoy mince pies and mulled wine in the candlelit dining room. The guests will also be treated to some Victorian gossip by Wilson the Butler, played by Iain McNichol, an historical interpreter. In some of England’s big houses like Muncaster, servants used to earn some extra money by showing visitors around without the owner’s knowledge.
Peter Frost Pennington, whose family owns Muncaster, says: ‘Muncaster’s Victorian Christmas Tours are a great way for people to get into the festive spirit and experience the beauty and charm of the Castle and its setting at this special time of year.’
The Castle’s gardens will be lit with colourful lights, music, sound and other special effects. The special tours will be available every Sunday in December and 27 to 29 December.
Tickets for the Victorian Christmas Tours and entry to the Castle, cost £12.50 for adults, £6.50 for children 5–15 and £34 for a family of two adults and two children.
Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, Cumbria CA18 1RQ
Tel: +44 1229 717 614
Website: www.muncaster.co.uk


Edinburgh welcomes the New Year
In Scotland the last day of the year is known as Hogmanay and the Scottish celebrate the event more vigorously than the rest of the British Isles. The celebrations in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, last for four days.
The party starts on 29 December with a torchlight procession that will create a ‘river of fire’ through the city.
On 30 December there will be a big free outdoor dance event called The Dancin’, with modern and international dance in the Grassmarket, and The Family Hoog in the George Street Assembly Rooms, Scottish dancing with a twist for all the family featuring ceilidh band Whisky Kiss.
On New Year’s Eve Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party will present live entertainment on four stages, with bands including Glasvegas, Hot Chip and Attic Lights. Entrance is by £10 Street Party Pass. A separate Concert in The Gardens will feature big beat duo Groove Armada as the headline act, and there's also a candlelit concert in St Giles' Cathedral, and a spectacular firework display at midnight.
Family events on New Year’s Day, 1 January, include an Edinburgh Bicycle Triathlon and a Kids Duathlon.
The Hogmanay celebrations end with Feet First, a specially commissioned free event of the best of Scottish street performance and outdoor arts. Thirteen street theatre companies and over 120 artists are involved. The show will combine light, sound, still and moving images, aerial and puppet performances.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay
29 December–1 January
Website: www.edinburghshogmanay.com

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