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Crowds enjoy famed Hogmanay events

Hogmanay celebrations have kicked off in Scotland's capital as crowds of revellers gathered to bring in the new year.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to party on the streets of Edinburgh for the world-famous event.

Scottish rock band Simple Minds will headline the Concert in the Gardens, with performances also from The View and Bwani Junction.

The street party is expected to see up to 80,000 party-goers welcome in 2013, with performances from Mercury Prize nominees The Maccabees and Reverend and the Makers.

There will be five live stages and countdown fireworks are being held every hour from 9pm until the midnight display from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle.

Pete Irvine, artistic director of Edinburgh's Hogmanay, said: "I think it's going really well this year.

"Last night we had our opening event with a record crowd at the torchlight procession.

"It's really, really busy here tonight - probably busier than we've seen it in some time because the weather is so good.

"There's a moon in the sky, it's actually not cold and it's not raining.

"We've been very lucky with the weather and I think we are going to be very lucky with the crowd and all the performances tonight on many stages."

Early celebrations got under way in the city dubbed the home of Hogmanay with a torchlight parade.

A record crowd estimated at 35,000, including 7,000 torch carriers, were led by the massed pipes and drums and the Up Helly Aa' Vikings from Shetland.

The procession made its way through the city streets to the burning of the effigy of a Viking boat and a spectacular Son et Lumiere display on Calton Hill.

Events will also take place on New Year's Day, including sled dog races at Holyrood Park and a triathlon which will see competitors swim 400 metres of the Royal Commonwealth Pool, cycle 11 miles around Arthur's Seat and then run 3.5 miles.

The Loony Dook, the annual dip in the River Forth at South Queensferry, will also take place.

Jim Kerr of Simple Minds told BBC Reporting Scotland: "We have played some iconic gigs, like Live Aid, but I think when they built Edinburgh, they built it with Hogmanay in mind, because it's perfect for this kind of event."

Elsewhere, Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire was expected to bring in the new year with its sell-out Open Air in the Square festival.

The event is being held in the coastal town's historic Market Square and headlined by the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Blazin' Fiddles.

Stonehaven is home to the traditional fireballs ceremony and local organisers decided to go ahead with the popular attraction despite the major flooding the town suffered in recent weeks.

A clean-up operation is still under way, with many high street residents having to stay with friends and relatives after their homes were severely damaged.

Fireball event co-ordinator Susan Leiper told STV News: "It's going to have a bit of a magical touch to it this year because people are so desperate for it to go ahead and we're keen to make it a really good night for everybody."

June Ross from Your Event Scotland said: "It's been a massive undertaking in a relatively short time and we're delighted that the festival is able to go ahead after the terrible damage caused by the storms and last week's flooding."

Residents of Aberdeen were being invited to bring in the New Year with a firework display from the roof of His Majesty's Theatre at the stroke of midnight.

Lord Provost of Aberdeen George Adam said: "I would like to wish everyone in Aberdeen a very happy New Year and I hope those who visit the city on Hogmanay will soak up the festive atmosphere and enjoy the fireworks to mark the bells."

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