It’s not exactly what you think of when you hear “high culture,” but the annual celebration of Hogmanay in Scotland is true highlands culture. With roots in sun and fire-worship in the deep mid-winter and the Saturnalia festival of the Romans, the Yule celebrations of the Vikings, and the ensuing Scottish Winter Festivals that were repressed by the church, Hogmanay may appear to be another New Year’s festival, but it is distinctly Scottish and one of the biggest days of the year for the country (and the people who find themselves there at the end of December).
Celebrations of Hogmanay are nation-wide, many of which are free outside with pay-to-play concerts indoors. The big three this year are Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Stirling, but it’s at Perth that you’ll find a very traditional celebration–or as they say, a night of old Hogmanay knees up–on the 31st. You’ll find great indie bands like The Fratellis in Edinburgh and Glasgow, but in Perth you’ll find Blazin’ Fiddles (and what’s Scotland without some fiddling?). Like rare single malts, each member of Blazin’ Fiddles draws the distinct flavor of music from their part of the highlands and islands, and fiddlers Catriona MacDonald, Bruce MacGregor, Allan Henderson, Iain MacFarlane, and Aidan O’Rourke, along with guitarist Marc Clement and keyboardist Andy Thornburn make the perfect band to usher out the old year and usher in the new. Blazin’ Fiddles will be joined by alterna-band Southpaw, singer Jim Malcolm, and emcee and comedian Bruce Fummey.
Doors open at 9:30 pm at the fabulous Horsecross Concert Hall (which also features great music and theatre performances year-round) and you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy a dram of whisky or a pint before the concert begins at 10:00. Tickets are still available, and while you can get a seat in the stalls for 15 Pounds (that’s roughly 30 USD), go for the standing tickets here (which run 10 to 12 Pounds) to really enjoy the party, which will include surprises that are mentioned on the website for practical reasons but, in the spirit of the Ne’er, I won’t tell.
Thanks, Hong. Kong Phooey!
Horsecross Concert Hall
Mill St, Perth
0845 612 6324