We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

Which Edinburgh hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Los Angeles...
posts: 65
reviews: 50
Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

Apologies for the lateness of this trip report, but hopefully it'll be of help to anyone planning Hogmanay in Edinburgh with kids. We travelled with our kids ages 11 through 3.


-Find and reserve rental apartment.

-Buy torches for Torchlight Procession.

-Reserve Highlands Tour.


Arrived late in the evening at Edinburgh Waverly train station. Avoided the panhandling drug addicts around the station (told my kids they can watch Trainspotting when we get home, wife was not amused). Found our rental apartment through tripadvisor's vacation rentals link.


Weather was beautifully Scottish, so it was driving winds and rain and cold. Arrived at Edinburgh Castle... which was closed because of the high winds. Walked down the Royal Mile. Kids voted to skip the Camera Obscura. Kids found the Museum of Childhood unimpressive. Kids prefered to browse the many souvenir shops on the Royal Mile.

Stopped at Fringe Shop, then headed downstairs to pick up "torches" for the Torchlight Procession. With credit card I used to pay online, picked up my tickets that I would later exchange for the actual torches.

Visited Palace of Holyrood House. Adults and kids were very impressed. Finished with shopping at adjacent "Queen's Gallery" gift shop.

DAY 3.

Highlands tour. We used "Heart of Scotland Tours", but there are so many tour companies that do the tour, they're probably all very similar. Kids had a great time (monster hunting at Loch Ness is one of the highlights of their lives), but remember it's an all-day tour. Bring an iPad loaded with games and movies, their Nintendo DSes, books, journals and pencils. Leave them on the bus in a bag so that the kids aren't bored out of their minds when driving around all day.

DAY 4.

National Museum of Scotland. Very kid-friendly, but adults were quickly bored by the place. Afterwards took our tickets to the torch pick-up across from St Giles Cathedral.

That evening: Hogmanay Torchlight Procession. AN ABSOLUTE MUST-DO. One of the most incredible events our family has ever done together. It's free, but buy your torch tickets in advance - they sell torches the day of, but they always sell out. Bundle up warmly. We got there 45 minutes before the start, and were in the middle of the pack. In hindsight, we would've gotten there earlier - maybe 75 minutes before the scheduled start time.

It's crowded at the start and we were worried about our kids with torches, but once the procession starts, it quickly spreads out and everyone stays clear of the kids with torches. Everyone is in a happy, celebratory feel-good mood. Follow the procession through town and then up to Calton Hill, then enjoy the music and fires and fireworks.


For something a little different, the boys took a bus to Murrayfield just west of the city to watch an early afternoon ice hockey match - the Edinburgh Capitals against the Fife Flyers. The league is not one of the best in Europe and Murrayfield is an old rink, but it's the highest skill level in the UK and it's a fun time with a raucous crowd. Tickets and concessions are cash-only, so bring enough if you want any of those Capitals sweaters or scarves.

The evening Hogmanay street party is not recommended for children, so we didn't buy tickets for the family. Instead, take the family up to Calton Hill. It's a bit of a walk, but it has a tremendous view of the castle and the fireworks. It's also a secondary fireworks point, so there's a fantastic fireworks show directly above your heads in addition to the one in the distance. We got to Calton Hill 30 minutes before midnight and found great spots. People were coming up as late as 10 minutes to midnight and finding spots.


Weather was beautiful, and that brought out many bagpipers around town. If you've ever wanted to get your photo with one, this is the time to do it - there's one every other block.

Not many sights open on New Year's Day, but one of the few things open - Edinburgh Castle! Thwarted by the high winds earlier, we spent a good part of the day at the castle. Get there before 1 or 2 in the afternoon and you won't have crowds. As it gets later all the late night party revelers start to wake up and go out sight-seeing, and nothing else is open, so the Castle gets very busy.

DAY 7.

Early morning flight out of town. Debated taking the bus, but instead called a taxi cab.

In summation. Edinburgh is amazing. The locals are great. The town is very child-friendly. The tourists are all upbeat, positive, and joyous. Edinburgh Hogmanay was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our family, but now we can't wait for the opportunity to go back and do it again.

Hope this helps!

Destination Expert
for Edinburgh
posts: 3,709
reviews: 29
1. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

Great report and so glad you enjoyed your trip to Edinburgh. The weather over New Year can be challenging, but it is a special time in the city. There are so many more family friendly things to do and places to see that you haven't touched on- so plenty to save for your next trip.

I agree with the Museum of Childhood, it is more a nostalgia place for adults and too stuffy/ old fashioned for children- the National Museum is much better.

Edinburgh, United...
Destination Expert
for Edinburgh
posts: 4,446
reviews: 225
2. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

Thanks for taking the time to share your trip with us, great!

I was especially happy to read that you managed (and enjoyed) a day trip to Loch Ness, in Winter, with children! Also reassuring that Nessie hunting was such a highlight for your children. The forum can be unforgiving on the notion of "nessie-hunting" as a tourist sport, so well done for proving us wrong!

Do come back for a return visit!

Abs :)

Destination Expert
for Glasgow
posts: 1,078
reviews: 5
3. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

I was at that hockey game too with my own kids!

First time I'd actually been to the icehockey and I really enjoyed it, probably helped with it being a local derby which added to the atmosphere. I think the Capitals need to practice penalty shots.

Destination Expert
for Livigno, Lombardy
posts: 39,383
reviews: 159
4. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

What a lovely report, I would love to spend Hogmany in Edinburgh it sounds amazing.

Birmingham, UK
posts: 40
reviews: 1
5. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

Hi Eugene,

Thank you for the lovely report.

We are thinking of celebrating the New Year festival in Edinburgh but waried if it is gonna be children friendly as we have young twins of 6 year old. Now it eases our mind after reading your report :)

Anyway, there are few queries we wish to seek for your opinion:-

1. Do we need to drive around Edinburgh to participate your itineraries;

2. Where do you recommend to stay? In the city centre or out of town, suggestions of accommation are very appreciated;

Thank you.


Edinburgh, Scotland
Destination Expert
for Edinburgh
posts: 2,077
reviews: 4
6. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

GeneCLK - you don't need a car, all the things mentioned are within walking distance if you are staying in the city centre. The only place mentioned that you would need a bus to go to is Murrayfield. Anyway,many roads are closed due to the street party and other celebrations. If you are thinking of coming I'd suggest you look now for somewhere to stay. The city centre or at least within walking distance would be best, as you can imagine taxis and buses are in short supply after midnight.

United Kingdom
Destination Expert
for Fethiye
posts: 8,417
reviews: 62
7. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

Take a look at the Knight Residence. Luxury Serviced flats at the back of the castle, so easy walking distance. Idea for families with young chlldren as they can have their own room and also you have a kitchen and living room. Even if you decide to get a car, they have a private car park with electronic key entrance. We always stay at the Knight Residence, bonus is they have the best staff we have ever experienced at any place we have stayed.

Birmingham, UK
posts: 40
reviews: 1
8. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

Thanks to Alan & Jane. Noted your kind suggestions. Just shared the festive holiday ideas with my 5 year old girl n she's very excited about it. Will proceed to hotel booking later. Cheers

Birmingham, UK
posts: 40
reviews: 1
9. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

Thanks to Alan & Jane. Noted your kind suggestions. Just shared the festive holiday ideas with my 5 year old girl n she's very excited about it. Will proceed to hotel booking later. Cheers

Los Angeles...
posts: 65
reviews: 50
10. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

Hi GeneCLK,

Sorry I missed your earlier post. In addition to what the others said-

-No, no car was necessary. Everything in the city was walkable. Things on the edges of town were easily navigated by bus.

-We found our rental apartment in the New Town through TripAdvisor listings. Since Hogmanay is a busy time of year, we couldn't find an accommodation in the Old Town that fit our budget. The New Town turned out to be excellent. A great neighborhood and only a short walk away from the sights.

Hope this helps!