Torchlights and Fireworks Get Edinburgh's Hogmanay Underway

Around 7,500 torchlight bearers led a crowd of 20,000 people through Edinburgh city centre last night to mark the beginning of Edinburgh’s 3-day Hogmanay festival.

The procession, led by Shetland's Up Helly Aa vikings, made "a river of fire" from Parliament Square along Princes Street to Calton Hill for a fireworks display featuring Scottish thistles and the saltire flag of Scotland.

This year's Hogmanay slogan is "Scotland's Big Year Starts Here" - a nod to the Independence Referendum on Thursday 18th September 2014, as well as the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the Ryder Cup, and the Scottish government backed "Year of Homecoming Scotland" campaign.

Unique Events, organisers of Edinburgh's Hogmanay, say this year's Edinburgh's Hogmanay, the 21st of its kind, will feature a total of seven fireworks displays over the three days of the Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festival. Titanium Fireworks, who designed this year's displays will be using software that choreographs each firework's lift-off to a one hundredth of a second accuracy.

Hogmanay organisers will be breathing a collective sigh of relief that the weather forecast for the main event - the Hogmanay street party in Edinburgh's city centre tonight - will be relatively benign after recent stormy conditions raged across the land. Twice in previous years, high winds forced cancellation of the street party.

While there is the possibility of light rain, winds are expected to be moderate and a seasonal average temperature of 6 or 7 Celsius is forecast for tonight.

For those revellers leaving their planning to the last minute, you can still book £20 pound tickets to the street party, although the Concert in the Garden and the Keilidh are sold out. The Candlelit Concert is also sold out and there are no places left for the Loony Dook.

Hogmanay night timeline

The Street Party will kick off with the "Homecoming Hogmanay Fireworks" from Calton Hill at 20:14 followed by countdown fireworks at 9.00pm and 10.00pm. A full Homecoming Hogmanay display at 11.00pm will signal one hour to go till the climax of the evening, the Midnight Fireworks.

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay spectacular midnight fireworks display involves over 2,300 cues, triggering over 16,000 shots from 52 locations spread around Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street Gardens and Calton Hill.

The display takes 40 hours to design and choreograph to music, and two weeks for a team of six to manufacture and fuse. Over 20 tonnes of equipment and 13 kilometres of control cables and wires take a team of 14 people six days to set up on site.

Music accompanying the midnight fireworks will be from Scottish artists who are either performing at this year’s Edinburgh's Hogmanay or have been part of the party in the past 21 years. Calvin Harris, The Proclaimers, Chvrches and Treacherous Orchestra tracks will all be featured.

Simon Page of Titanium Fireworks commented: "Hogmanay is a major celebration in Scotland. We are delighted to be part of the party and welcome 2014 – Scotland’s Big Year. The 2014 display full of Scottish thistles and saltires will hopefully inspire everyone to remember that Scotland is the Home of Hogmanay and this display will be fired in Inverness, Stirling and Stonehaven as well as Edinburgh."

The midnight fireworks display will be started from the Concert in the Gardens stage by VisitScotland competition winner Amber Sebold, from Mintlaw in Aberdeenshire. Ms Sebold entered VisitScotland’s Brilliant Moments competition in early December and will push the plunger creating the first #brilliantmoment of Homecoming Scotland 2014.