12/28/2012 09:38 am ET Updated Feb 27, 2013

New Year's Travel: Why Smart Tourists Are Headed To Scotland (PHOTOS)

Hogmanay, Edinburgh's New Year's celebration, may not be the biggest celebration on Earth, the hippest or, for that matter, the warmest, but it is absolutely the most enjoyable. On New Year's Eve the gothic alleyways of the creaking city fill with revelers dancing to traditional fiddle and bagpipe music and kilted, intoxicated men attempting somber recitations of the poetry of Robert Burns.

Everyone is cursing the English while speaking a local brand of unintelligible English and buying each other orders of Scotch. A friendly chaos reigns and the local police do very little to rein it in.

This year, the Scotman reports that 75,000 people are expected to "attend" the city's street party, by which the organizers surely mean stagger into central Edinburgh after hopping barricades and grabbing ceremonial torches. With this many bodies in the street, everyone and anyone is likely to get a kiss at night. Local tradition dictates a certain degree of tongue-less promiscuity, so pecks are handed out by the bushel.

Rock bands will perform and line dancing will hold sway. The party will likely continue into the wee hours of the morning.

What is most unusual about Hogmanay is that the party will not end in darkness. On New Year's day the celebration will continue as thousands jump in the freezing water at Queensferry for the Loony Dook, a bevy of hung-over athletes attempt to stumble their way through a local triathlon and the city's canine residents celebrate Dogmanay in Holyrood Park. Because the Scottish are unfazed by unwilling to show that they are fazed by the winter cold, these events all take place outdoors and are all extremely well attended.

The city's bars, among the best on Earth for carrying on, are also well attended at all hours of the day and night. American travelers are treated well here provided they say toss a few expletives in the direction of the English.

When all the whiskey is finally drunk, visitors can head west to Glasgow to listen to indie bands and take in the vibrant art scene or attempt to make the famed hike up Arhur's Seat, a popular climb in the wastes just beyond city center.



Hogmanay's Fireworks