UK & World News

  • 31 December 2013, 5:32

Hogmanay Celebrations Light Up Edinburgh

The UK's Hogmanay celebrations have begun in Edinburgh with a stunning torch-light procession through the streets by more than 8,000 people.

The event kicked off a three-day festival, the 21st year the city has hosted a prolonged and structured Hogmanay party.

The centrepiece will be the famous street party in Princes Street, attended by up to 80,000 people.

At Edinburgh Castle, high above the street, 20 tonnes of fireworks will be used in four separate displays up to, and including, the midnight hour.

Event organiser Pete Irvine told Sky News: "We are still, and will continue to be, the biggest and best street party in the world.

"It's as big as it ever was and we have amazing fireworks at 9pm, 10pm, 11pm and midnight.

"That, as well as fifteen acts performing on five different stages. It is, in every sense, a big party."

Those in charge of the fireworks say new and improved lighting at Edinburgh Castle will enhance their displays.

New lights mean that the castle can be illuminated in a range of colours.

It will be bathed in bright white during the fireworks to increase its prominence as a centrepiece and to provide a backdrop for the variety of colours that will sprinkle the sky.

Fireworks co-ordinator Sarah Gardiner told Sky News: "The castle lighting will make it brighter for the TV cameras so viewers at home, as well as those amongst the 80,000 crowd, should enjoy a better spectacle.

"We have our teaser shows every hour from 9pm, counting down to midnight. At nine, we're doing a magical element, with a nod towards the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014.

"The theme centres around Team Scotland and is very colourful and beautiful. At 10pm, we'll provide a winter wonderland, it'll be sparkling.

"The 11 o'clock is a special one. It's an iconic show for 2014 which should look incredible above the castle.

"At midnight, it's the show choreographed to music and we are hopeful that it will delight."

Hogmanay celebrations come at the start of a big year in Scotland, for a number of different reasons.

The country will host a number of world events, including the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup.

There is also the small matter of an independence referendum in September 2014.

The Scottish Government has designated 2014 as the second "Homecoming Year" - the first was in 2009 - designed to market Scotland to the world, particularly the Scottish diaspora.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond told Sky News: "The eyes of the world will be on Scotland in 2014 and Scotland will provide a special welcome to the world during those twelve months.

"Our unique offering has just been recognised by Lonely Planet, which named Scotland as one of the top countries in the world for travellers in 2014."

:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.