“Go as quickly as you can,” I reassured the girl in front of me, as she tiptoed along the edge of the Edinburgh rooftop where we were catching the last remnants of the last sunset of the year. “Don’t even entertain the idea that you could fall.”
But in spite of my cheerleading—and indeed, the ease with which I skated over the slick, moss-covered stone—I was scared to death. Literally.
You see, early on in 2015, during a several-week spell of insomnia, I had strange, repeated premonitions that I would not live to see 2016. While this seemed less and less likely as December drew to a close—particularly once I arrived in Edinburgh to experience Hogmanay, the city’s world-famous New Year’s Eve celebration—I couldn’t help but wonder if I would slip up (or off, as it were) in the 11th hour.
Well, it’s 2016 and I’m very much alive. And if anything, my experience at Hogmanay—and in Edinburgh in general—has given me a sense of immortality.
The city itself has a timeless feel, the mechanations of the festival notwithstanding. Edinburgh is an eclectic menagerie of churches and houses and government buildings and asylums from across several centuries, stitched together with a serpentine network of alleys and staircases and cobbled lanes that make it easy to forget what year you’re in, let alone your own mortality.
Hogmanay takes this to an even greater extreme, starting with the Torchlight Procession on December 30. Vikings—actual vikings from the Shetland Islands—lead more than 40,000 people through the city, from the so-called Royal Mile all the way to Calton Hill, Scotland’s national monument and Edinburgh’s answer to the Acropolis, both in terms of its location on a high plateau and its Greco-Roman appearance.
The sense of perpetuity becomes even more pronounced on the 31st: The number of people—and kilts—in Edinburgh’s ancient streets doubles; rock concerts juxtapose with a traditional Scottish Ceilidh dance; and a decidedly 21st-century fireworks extravaganza explodes over the 12th century Edinburgh Castle, itself built atop 700 million year old extinct volcano.
Tomorrow I’ll be headed to Scotland’s Isle of Skye—major bucket list item!—and over the next couple weeks, I’ll be posting a photo essay from there, as well as a detailed sample itinerary for Edinburgh. For now, I invite you to enjoy some more of my pictures from the past several days.
And I implore you to attend Hogmanay to ring in 2017—even if you don’t have premonitions of dying before then.
#blogmanay is brought to you by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and is supported by ETAG, The Scottish Government, VisitScotland, Edinburgh Festivals, Marketing Edinburgh, Rabbies Tours and co-creators Haggis Adventures. Created and produced by Unique Events. As always, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.