I check into my hostel accommodation across the river from Edinburgh with about five hours to go before the New Year 2012 begins. Nonetheless, the celebrations have already began and plans are made with other guests to join in the fun.
Although I have a rental car, not knowing the parking situation in the city and wanting to be free of the need to drive, I opt to take the train into the city. The train station is a short distance from the hostel and with a light rain falling a group of us take the brief walk.
I am told that the New Year celebrations began four days ago with an ongoing street party called Hogmanay. For about US$25, I am going to find out what this “Hog” thing is all about.
As we enter the “Street Party”, colorful bright fireworks are exploding in the nearby night sky. I am being pulled in all directions by lively and energizing music.
With food and drink vendors lined on both sides of the street, I am drawn to a basket of warm chips and a cold bottle of Crabbie's, a ginger flavored beer.
Although they are a bit overpriced, the Crabbie’s makes up for it.
Walking towards another music venue the streets are beginning to become seriously populated as The Old Year is slowly coming to a close. Another round of fireworks explodes into the night air as I can now see the dimly lit Edinburgh Castle on a hill above us. In a crowd filled garden park below us a live concert is going on that is available for an additional charge.
For one or two reasons I wish I were wearing a kilt as tonight it seems to come with a special rear reward slapping benefit. Very touching to say the least. All around me, this place is filled with jubilant energy that is exciting.
The crowd at my next stop is so vibrant and full of vigor that I decide this is where I want to ring in The New Year. The music has me hopping like a frog and singing along like I am a party animal then the countdown begins 10, 9, 8, 7…..
With a colorful bang we welcome 2012 as an unbelievable fireworks display explodes in the distance and fills the Scottish night skies. It is one of the most awesome fireworks shows that I have ever seen.
Applauds go up as the fireworks display ends and we all join in singing Auld Lang Syne, the traditional New Year song that is from an old Scottish poem which roughly translates “Days Gone By”.
Not as long as we intended to “Party All Night Long” and celebrate another year with hopefully new dreams, joy and friendships.
Edinburgh, you have made this New Year celebration one that I will never forget and in the paraphrased words of one of your countrymen.
There's a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o' thine !
And we'll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.