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Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

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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.

BEFORE TRIP-

-Find and reserve rental apartment.

-Buy torches for Torchlight Procession.

-Reserve Highlands Tour.

DAY 1

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.

DAY 2

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.

DAY 5. NEW YEAR'S EVE.

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.

DAY 6. NEW YEAR'S DAY

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!

County Cork, Ireland
posts: 611
reviews: 22
11. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

Loved your report! Will have to plan this in a few years time!

12. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

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Removed on: 12:06 pm, January 30, 2014
Edinburgh
posts: 195
13. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

"We have tried booking tickets for the torch light. Unfortunately sold out."

For this year?? They don't go on sale until around October/ November.

Last year they sold out - but only a few days before the event. Of course anyone can join the procession without a torch - but last year a LOT of people were left at the bottom of Calton Hill and could not get in as it was already full. So try and be near the front of the procession if you want to get onto the hill for the fireworks finale thing.

Grantown-on-Spey...
Destination Expert
for Scottish Highlands, St. Andrews
posts: 6,652
reviews: 132
14. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

>>National Museum of Scotland. Very kid-friendly, but adults were quickly bored by the place<<

Surely not???? Can't believe you didn't like it...but enjoyed the rest of your report which is the sort of thing that's very helpful to others following on...in fact Gene is already sold!

Rent an apartment rather than a hotel would be my suggestion GeneCLK - much more user friendly if you have kids

Haste ye back

Woody x

Edinburgh
posts: 195
15. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

I agree Woody - I could easily spend hours in the NMS (and have done several times).

Good report though and I enjoyed the humour. :)

Actually on a more serious note those rather dodgy looking folk who hang about on top of Princes Mall next to the tourist info centre/ Waverley station are hardly a great advert for Edinburgh and it must put tourists off enjoying the stunning views of the Old Town from there - I know it puts me off as a local. I like taking photos from there at night with a tripod but having encountered some of the people who loiter there including one who called me the C word and told me to F off for no reason I don't exactly feel safe or comfortable there after dark. :)

Edited: 11:35 am, March 03, 2013
16. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

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Removed on: 2:05 pm, March 08, 2013
england uk
posts: 16
reviews: 29
17. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

Does anybody know if My family including an 19 year old and a 14 year old will be okay at the street party

Edinburgh
Destination Expert
for Edinburgh
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reviews: 29
18. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

The street party is supposed to be for over 16s but I'm not sure if or how they would check.

england uk
posts: 16
reviews: 29
19. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

Thank you for the response

I have checked and the official line is that under 16 are allowed if adult accompanied but I am just wondering if anybody has any info as to whether many under 16 s do attend and if it advisable or enjoyable for them

I would love to go but won't leave any of my children behind:)

Dilemma

Harwich, United...
posts: 74
reviews: 87
20. Re: Trip Report: Hogmanay in Edinburgh (with small children)

My wife and I go to the street party every year and absolutely love it, mainly because of the various stages and music. There are thousands and thousands of people there and it can get claustrophobic in places, especially once the fireworks are finished and everyone is trying to leave by the exits.

We are both in our 40's and go just the two of us, but always decide on an emergency place to meet up just in case we lose each other (thankfully it has never happened).

Personally, I would not take an under 16 year old into the street party. I'm sure the locals on this site will be able to give you some excellent options for that evening which are less intimidating and family friendly.

Whatever you do, have a good one..