Scotland

Hogmanay getaways: New Year’s Eve breaks in Scotland

There’s no beating Scotland when it comes to New Year’s Eve revelry.

The tartan nation is the home of Hogmanay and is known the world over for the wild and fun-filled celebrations that mark the end of one year and the arrival of another. From Viking reenactments to flame-fuelled processions, dancing the ceilidh and the legendary Edinburgh Hogmanay midnight fireworks, Scotland certainly knows how to party in style.

But it’s not just about the moment when the bell strikes midnight. New year north of the border is more than just a one-day event, the celebrations last way beyond. And to help you plan, we’ve found the best places to stay to make the most of the festivities – quaint B&Bs, Loch-side lodgings, chic, urban boltholes and family-friendly hotels are all on offer.

Watch the world-famous fireworks from the rooftop garden of this luxury Edinburgh hotel

The festivities kick off in Edinburgh with a spectacular 8,000-strong torchlit procession down the Royal Mile, led by the Up Helly Aa Vikings and accompanied by some of the country’s finest pipers and drummers. The flaming procession creates a jaw-dropping, ‘river of fire’ as it winds its way through the ancient streets of the city to Holyrood Park.

Attracting around 35,000 people each year, the event culminates in a breathtaking light show, live music and, as the bell strikes midnight, the world-famous Hogmanay midnight fireworks.

For a luxury bolthole just minutes from the city centre and the festivities, The Glasshouse Hotel is hard to beat. Quirky but effortlessly cool, the hotel lobby is the Gothic facade of a formal chapel, but go beyond the impressive frontage and this contemporary bolthole is all curvaceous lines and glass-to-ceiling windows.

The rooms are an on-trend cocktail of wood, marble and Japanese styling and many boast glorious views of the city skyline and beyond – superior rooms have private balconies with urban views, whilst others open onto the roof terrace. The Snug offers all-day dining on Scottish fayre and the Brasserie sources its meat from a butcher with a Royal Warrant.

The wow-factor, though, has to be the two-acre rooftop garden, a landscaped urban oasis of mature trees, real grass and contemporary planters. With views over Carlton Hill – where the fireworks take place – it’s an ideal spot for watching the festivities from afar.

The Glasshouse Hotel

Top rated
Edinburgh, 0.8 km to 3D Loch Ness Experience
8.7 Excellent (1780 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.2 / 10
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Welcome in the New Year at the ultimate winter fire festival in Aberdeenshire

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Scotland’s winter fire festivals are a magnificent way to illuminate a winter’s night and a spectacular way to welcome in the New Year. The fireballs parade in Stonehaven, just south of Aberdeen, is a free, 100-year old celebration of flickering flames, swinging fireballs and Gaelic tradition.

A century-old cleansing ritual, performed to burn off any bad spirits left from the old year, the festival begins with a piper leading a procession down the town’s High Street, accompanied by bagpipers, street performers and 40 fireball swingers. Just before the Town Hall bells chime midnight, the great balls of fire are cast into the harbour in a feat of strength and heat-resistant bravery.

A short, 20-minute drive from Stonehaven, Ardoe House Hotel is a 19th-century baronial mansion, inspired by Balmoral Castle. Built by soap merchant Alexander Ogston and set in 30-acres of grounds, the hotel is a quintessentially Scottish affair with oak panelled walls, stag heads and rich, patterned carpets – ideal for relaxing after a night of New Year excitement.

Scotland’s Winter fire festivals

Winter fire festivals take place throughout early January. Rooted in Viking tradition, they mark the end of Yuletide and welcome the returning spring and sunshine. For many, Scots, fire festivals are a bigger celebration that Christmas and New Year put together.

Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel & Spa

Top rated
Aberdeen, 10.6 km to Aberdeen Airport
8.5 Excellent (1567 reviews)
Excellent Comfort 8.9 / 10
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Join a family 'Auld Lang Syne' singalong in the capital of the Highlands

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For a New Year’s break with a family-festival vibe, the annual Hogmanay concert in Inverness is a must. With fireworks, a legendary ‘Auld Lang Syne’ singalong, comedians and live Scottish bands, the free, Red Hot Highland Fling is a huge Gaelic gig attracting over 10,000 people each year.

Families are made to feel welcome and the headline bands are scheduled before 10 p.m., so young ones can get home before the bell strikes midnight – taking centre stage this year is Blazin’ Fiddles and Tidelines, a group of ‘contemporary fiddle players from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland’.

Those wanting to enjoy the fun then retreat for some downtime should stay at Kingsmills Hotel, a luxury hotel with an impressive visitors’ book – it’s hosted soldiers seeking refuge and the Scottish poet and lyricist Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns.

Outside, there are acres of space for the little ones to run wild, indoors the swimming pool will keep the kids busy, and Loch Ness and its elusive monster are just a 30-minute drive away. A range of spacious family rooms, including some with private gardens, is on offer and at selected times kids stay and eat for free; the Inglis restaurant offers half-portions and a children’s menu.

Kingsmills Hotel

Top rated
Inverness, 14.5 km to Fort George
8.7 Excellent (2362 reviews)
Excellent Comfort 8.9 / 10
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Dance in the New Year at a Hogmanay ceilidh in Aberdeen

Scots love to celebrate New Year’s Eve by throwing a ceilidh, a traditional Scottish social gathering fuelled by high-energy country dancing, upbeat Gaelic folk music and gusto. Wild, fun and often fuelled by malt whisky, the dance steps are called out by the band – you just follow – and favourite tracks include The Flying Scotsman, Strip the Willow and Dashing White Sergeant.

Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom is the venue for a legendary New Year’s Eve ceilidh, a night of whirlwind dancing and Hogmanay revelry. A stunning Art-Deco building on the city’s seafront, the ballroom is known throughout Scotland for its dance floor which floats on steel springs and gives dancers extra bounce!

Dance to the tunes of the Hipflask Ceilidh Band, then retire to the Malmaison, a ten-minute walk away, where the rooms and suites boast big beds, power showers and suitably cool decor. For a New Year’s Day brunch, dig into a Chez Mal veggie breakfast and a restorative juice, then head to town and explore Scotland’s Granite City; the Old Aberdeen Trail takes you on a tour of the historic 12th Century cathedral, medieval bridge and late-15th Century architecture.

Hotel Malmaison Aberdeen

Aberdeen, 7.8 km to Aberdeen Airport
8.4 Very good (1143 reviews)
Excellent Service 8.7 / 10
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Celebrate New Year in style with a foodie city break in the heart of Glasgow

Glasgow’s leafy west end has nascent but thriving foodie scene. A recent addition to the city’s cultural CV, Glasgow is now home to a fantastic range of artisan producers, independent shops, hip drinking joints and great places to eat.

Foodies looking for a culinary Hogmanay experience can indulge in a New Year package at Hotel du Vin. This luxury boutique hotel occupies a terrace of five, Grade II Victorian townhouses on sought after Devonshire street. Wonderfully, chic and decadent, the decor marries opulent Victoriana with on-trend accent walls and rich, sumptuous fabrics.

The award-winning bistro serves a Hogmanay tasting menu including champagne on arrival, a ceilidh and a piper to bring in the New Year; dishes include seared Orkney scallops with piccalilli, pork jowl and crackling, and Newtonmore venison with pumpkin, salsify, choux farci, ras el hanout.

And, if you need more, for New Year’s Day there’s a leisurely four-course lunch. To walk it off stroll to the nearby Botanical Gardens, or indulge your passion for food a little further afield at the street food stalls of Argyle Street Arches and the Big Feed indoor food market.

Hotel du Vin Glasgow

Top rated
Glasgow, 4.4 km to Argyle Street Station
8.9 Excellent (1145 reviews)
Excellent Service 9.2 / 10
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A romantic Loch-side New Year’s break away from the crowds

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If the hubbub of an urban New Year’s Eve is not your thing, then head to the hills for a romantic stay on the shores of Loch Lomond in the Trossachs National Park. This gem of a hotel, in the village of Saint Fillans, is a serene, rural getaway with fine food and jaw-dropping views to boot.

A place of peace and tranquillity, it’s a gorgeous hideaway and perfect for a low-key Hogmanay break. There are plenty of accommodation options available including spacious rooms, hillside chalets and a self-catering apartment. The hotel has had some famous guests – The Beatles stayed here in 1964 and die-hard fans can book a ‘Beatles Break’.

The Meall Reamhar restaurant has views of snow-capped Ben Vorlich and serves a hearty menu, with diverse dishes ranging from applewood arancini to rib-eye steak and chips. After dinner snuggle down beside a roaring log fire in the library and plan your New Year’s day – sailing fans can take the water at the nearby Loch Earn Watersports Centre, for skiable snow, head north towards Glencoe or visit Edradour, the smallest distillery in Scotland.

The Four Seasons Hotel

8.5 Excellent (263 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.1 / 10
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Feature image courtesy of Sarthak Navjivan / Unsplash


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