Hogmanay celebrations are under way in Scotland’s capital, with tens of thousands of people gathering to see in the New Year at one of the world’s largest street parties.
Organisers of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay said this year’s events celebrate the ties between Scotland and Europe as the UK prepares to leave the EU in 2019.
Bands, DJs, street performers, dancers, acrobats and fire eaters from Scotland and mainland Europe are scheduled to perform at the street party, which is running for several hours, until well after the midnight bells fall silent.
Revellers can enjoy music across three stages, with Scottish favourite Gerry Cinnamon appearing on the Waverley stage, Judge Jules leading the DJ stage in Castle Street and Elephant Sessions set to take to the stage in South St David Street.
At midnight, German band Meute will provide the soundtrack to the fireworks display from Edinburgh Castle while Eurodance outfit Snap! are set to perform on one of the stages in the first minutes of 2019.
Meanwhile, Franz Ferdinand – supported by Metronomy and Free Love – will headline the Concert in the Gardens ahead of midnight at the foot of Castle Rock while some of the country’s top ceilidh bands are to play at Ceilidh under the Castle.
First in the queue to see Franz Ferdinand were Jessica Cassino, 37, from Brooklyn, New York, and 28-year-old Alina Entelis, from Israel.
Ms Cassino said: “I love Franz Ferdinand. Edinburgh’s beautiful, I love it. I’ll be back next year.”
Ms Entelis, who is currently studying in London, said: “When I started looking at the Franz Ferdinand concert, I saw a bunch of other events going on. I was participating in the torchlight procession on Sunday and I loved it.
“I feel like Edinburgh is the best place to be on New Year’s Eve right now. Everybody is jealous of me back home!
“I’ve been here once before and I loved it, and I was really looking forward to coming back. I think it’s magical and I’ve recommended it to a bunch of my friends.”
The crowd featured first-time visitors, return visitors and those with family links to Scotland.
It was the first time in Edinburgh for couple Myriam Malquin, 25, and David Maheo, 26, from Brittany in France.
Mr Maheo told Press Association Scotland: “We wanted to go to a European capital for New Year. We saw that there was a big party in Edinburgh, so we came.
“It’s great. It’s very interesting to see the castle, all the buildings.”
Georgina McGuire, 26, from Woking in Surrey, praised the friendliness of the local residents.
“I love Edinburgh – there are good vibes and lots of sparkle. Everyone is so friendly,” she said.
Michelle Rossiter, 30, a speech therapist from Sydney, currently working in London, said: “My heritage is from Scotland, my grandmother, that’s why I’m here.
“We’ve already met some Scottish people, some Edinburgh locals, and they’re all really friendly. I’m looking forward to the concert. Sydney has some pretty good fireworks, and I am looking forward to fireworks over the castle, but the concert, definitely, is the main thing I’m excited about.”
Elsewhere in Scotland, Inverness is hosting Scotland’s biggest free Hogmanay celebration while celebrations are also taking place in centres such as Aberdeen and Stirling.
The Scottish capital’s three-day festival of events to mark the start of 2019 opened on Sunday with the traditional torchlight procession, culminating in Holyrood Park where the outline of Scotland was lit up.
The festivities will continue on New Year’s Day when hardy people plunge into the chilly waters of the Firth of Forth in the Loony Dook at South Queensferry.
Also on January 1, buildings across the Scottish capital will be illuminated by “love letters to Europe” from six writers – Billy Letford, Chitra Ramaswamy, Kapka Kassabova, Louise Welsh, Stef Smith and William Dalrymple.
Co-commissioned with the Edinburgh International Book Festival, it runs until January 25.
A report out earlier this year found that the economic impact of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations on the city was more than £39 million.
A study for organisers Underbelly noted that 165,994 people from 80 countries attended last year’s programme of events to welcome in the new year.
Scotland’s Europe minister Ben Macpherson said: “Edinburgh is one of the world’s best-known cities for bringing in the New Year. Few places celebrate quite like Scotland – the home of the world-renowned Hogmanay celebrations.
“Scotland’s ties with our European and international friends and neighbours stretch back many centuries, and this year’s celebrations reflect those ties of friendship, business, culture and commerce – strong ties that the Scottish Government and so many others are determined to see endure, whatever the New Year holds in terms of the Brexit process.”