Happy New Year from Mackays Hotel!

Hogmanay is a big celebration in Scotland and the perfect way to welcome the New Year. There are Hogmanay traditions lost to time and some that families across the country keep to this day!

Hogmanay Traditions in Scotland


We give a lump of coal when first footing for warmth

One of the most traditional parts of Hogmanay, the ritual of first-footing starts at the midnight bells, when Scots head to the front doors of their friends and family, eager to be the first into their home that year. They share gifts and good wishes, with the aim being to start the year as you mean to go on. If you’re a real stickler for tradition, the first-footer would be a tall, dark-haired lad. The gift you brought would be a token of good luck and sometimes have a deeper meaning – salt for good health, and coal for warmth. Some leftover Christmas goodies are more common now!

Singing and dancing

Winter boots warming by the fire

Be it having your friends around and cozying up by the fire for a sing-song. Or partying in style at Mackays Hotel… Singing and dancing are a must here in Scotland! And Auld Lang Syne is the classic Hogmanay ritual – cross your hands and sway to the tune if you don’t know the words!

Ceilidhs are also held up and down the country, starting hours before the new year and leaving people dancing into the morning!

Partying the night away

A group of friends in winter wrapped up warm and laughing

Scottish cities hold big events, from concerts to street parties to firework displays. Edinburgh hosts a famous street party, with more than 60,000 revellers entertained throughout the night.

Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, puts on the biggest celebration of the night. Music and fireworks always make the family-friendly event a hit.

Seeing in the New Year with a bang!

The Scottish flag with fireworks across the sides

Fireworks, bonfires and even fireballs are used to mark the new year in Scotland. In Stonehaven, a procession of people swinging balls of burning material is an annual spectacle. They walk along the high street before reaching the harbour and throwing the fireballs in the sea!

Here in Wick, we’re a little bit tamer. A bonfire at the top of Bignold Park keeps a crowd warm as the new year is celebrated.

And of course, you won’t have to travel far to catch a great fireworks display!

So if you’re planning to be in the Highlands for New Year, or are making some plans to travel later in 2020, let Mackays Hotel be your first stop for great food, cosy nights and sightseeing recommendations!

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