Hogmanay: How to spend it in the Cairngorms
Scots are renowned for their party spirit at New Year but you will never get a warmer welcome, from locals and tourists alike, than at a Highland Hogmanay.
Indeed, by the time you are singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ after the bells, you will be in your element with acquaintances old and new over a cup of kindness (or two…).
Whatever your age, the biggest problem you will have is in choosing where to spend New Year’s Eve because there is so much going on. Here are a few suggestions to get you in the mood for the most memorable of celebrations:
Grantown-on-Spey’s ‘Hogmanay in the Square’
Locals embrace organising this event with so much gusto that it is regularly one of the biggest gatherings in the Highlands for Hogmanay, famous for its convivial, merry ambience. The streets throng with revellers, dancing and enjoying the ceilidh band music. Of course, traditional Scottish refreshments like haggis are on offer, as well as typical Christmas treats like mulled wine. Crowds gather from 11pm and party on until about 1am, with fireworks marking the bells.
Newtonmore Torchlight Processions & Fireworks Displays
Like the Christmas festivities, villages punch well above their weight when it comes to celebrating Hogmanay and bringing people together, whether young or old, residents or visitors.
Newtonmore hosts an impressively spectacular New Year’s Eve celebration too, with a torch parade, bagpipes and fireworks, meeting at the Balavil Hotel at 11.30pm. Tipple of choice at this event is usually Stags Breath whisky liqueur, washed down nicely with some Walkers shortbread.
The event ends shortly after the bells but the tradition of “first footing” – turning up on doorsteps to offer New Year greetings – is alive and well, meaning you can party until the very wee hours, should you wish.
Village Ceilidhs / Dances
Most of the villages around the National Park celebrate in traditional style with a village hall ceilidh. Visitors and locals are all welcome to enjoy the fun, but grab yout tickets early as they are always very popular.
A Banquet fit for a King (or Queen) at Rowan Tree Country Hotel & Restaurant
Bring in 2024 in style, with a Hogmanay tasting dinner to usher in the New Year, at the Rowan Tree Country Hotel & Restaurant just outside Aviemore.
Arrive in style and prepare to be treated to canapés and fizz, before sitting down to a sumptuous feast.
Other venues hosting more formal Hogmanay dinners include the Cairngorm Hotel, La Taverna Aviemore, the Boat Country Inn and Aviemore’s Macdonald Resort, which offers either a child-free gala dinner or a family-friendly dinner party both with music.
Nethy Bridge Torchlight Procession
This incredibly family friendly timed event invites you to join them at 6pm at Lynstock Crescent for Hot Chocolate and Mulled Hot Drinks. Piped off by a young local piper they’ll depart at 7pm and create a river of light throughout the village.
Torches available to buy from 6pm for £5. Procession leaves Lynstock Crescent, Nethy Bridge at 7pm.
Loch-side Loveliness (or Looniness!) at Insh
Loch Insh is also a popular choice to blow away the cobwebs on New Year’s Day too due to its ‘Loony Dook’ which always draws a lively crowd. If you dare to dip, it costs £5 per person, which is donated to local causes. The event kicks off at 11am and is short, sharp and – some would say – sweet!
New Year’s Day
If you are feeling a bit delicate on New Year’s Day and need to recharge your batteries, then you couldn’t be in a better place to blow away the cobwebs with a brisk walk in beautiful surroundings, perfect for inspiring those resolutions. There are also a couple of lively events to start off the New Year with a smile, such as the New Year’s Day Wildcat Trail Walk in Newtonmore and the traditional Shinty “Challenge” match in Kingussie. Or, if you’re feeling really brave (or sore-headed), you might consider joining the usual throng of fancy-dressed dare-devils at Loch Insh for the customary “dip” to see in the New Year with a splash.
The Visit Cairngorms team would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!