Thursday, December 31, 2020

Fare Well: Edinburgh's Hogmanay Drone Shows

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the world's largest Hogmanay (New Year) celebration in Edinburgh (previously here) has moved to an online platform. These 3D drone light shows accompanied by David Tennant and others reading a new poem by Jackie Kay are stunning. The combination of the scenery, the words, the music, the lights and the images and symbols they form, and the inflection of the readers made me tear up...

Edinburgh's Hogmanay 2020 - Online Celebration
Fare Well is a new poem by Jackie Kay that bids farewell to 2020 and wishes a better year for 2021 Narrated by David Tennant and others, Fare Well underscores the UK’s largest swarm drone display, recorded in the Scottish Highlands and cut to spectacular views above Edinburgh.

Part One of Fare Well looks at the year gone by – the funerals and weddings cancelled, the griefs and despairs which have been collective, with a feeling that the world has become a village.

Whilst part one of Fare Well looked at the year that’s gone by, the second phase turns to look at us today and to give thanks for the many acts of community and kindness displayed by so many across the country. Jackie Kay’s narrative takes an optimistic tone, reflecting on the good of the human spirit and the sense of togetherness that has emerged from 2020.

Part two of Fare Well includes images of “WE” in the skies above Edinburgh – a message from Scotland of universality and commonality – with “WE” translated into many languages including French, Gaelic, Arabic, Greek, Korean, Mandarin and Thai.

The final instalment of Fare Well and a message of hope for 2021!

Whilst part one and two of Fare Well looked at the year gone by, the finale turns from the celebration of Hogmanay, the end of the year, and looks with optimism to the future. Taking inspiration from a poem by Robert Burns (Sketch New Year's Day), Scots Makar Jackie Kay echoes Burns’ question about the night of Hogmanay and asks what did ‘yesternight deliver’ and like Burns, finds that there is hope, and that it is found in nature. Burns finds hope in looking up at the skies and says that something in us never dies.

Haud Hogmanay (Happy New Year), readers.

Goodbye 2020...

...well, that was harrowing.

Please be better 2021, pleeeeeeease.
Here's to it.

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? 2020

The sublime songbird Ella sings the ultimate version of this lovely song..."What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"

I hope whatever you do, you have fun.


I'd like to get off now...

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Monday, December 28, 2020

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Happy Hogmanay 2020 - 2021!

Hogmanay is the Scottish New Year's celebration that takes place over the course of several days. While the festival and its customs date back to pagan celebrations of winter solstice, the word Hogmanay itself is harder to trace. Scholars have guessed that the word possibly comes from the French, Norse, or Goidelic languages.

The largest event held in Edinburgh usually kicks off with a torchlight procession. An enormous crowd of celebrants accompanied by pipers and drummers, fire, and fanfare in a river of light wind through the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town culminating in the historic Holyrood Park.

Every year, the torchbearers make a different shape when seen from the air...

December 31st is Auld Year's Eve. Street parties, outdoor concerts, indoor concerts, and The Ceilidh Under the Castle (a concert of traditional pipe and drum Scottish music held at the base of Edinburgh Castle) all culminate in an overwhelming firework display at the stroke of midnight.

Due to the ongoing global pandemic, the street parties, concerts, dances, and gatherings of Edinburgh's Hogmanay Festival will clearly not take place this year, but organizers have instead come up with a unique, multi-night presentation. Here are the details from the official site:

"As Christmas draws closer and ‘bubble’ celebrations with friends and family start to feel a reality, the next occasion to plan for is New Year. This is a welcome chance to wave off 2020 and hope for an altogether better 2021. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is renowned internationally as one of the leading new year celebrations in the world and this year’s Hogmanay will continue to cement this reputation. With no live events planned this year, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay will, for the first time in its history, move to an entirely online celebration with a series of spectacular ‘moments’ to be watched from home.

Produced by Underbelly on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council, the free online series of shows promise never seen before, visually-spectacular moments every evening from 28th through to the 1st January. The stay-at-home event series will be FREE to watch and streamed via so Hogmanay fans all over the world can tune in from the comfort and safety of their homes.

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has wowed, surprised and delighted hundreds of thousands of people over the years and 2020 promises to continue that tradition, with a series of awe-inspiring moments using multisensory creativity and pioneering technology crafted, hosted and narrated by a powerhouse of incredible Scottish talent. The line-up includes internationally renowned actor and famed Doctor Who, David Tennant, award winning poet and Scottish Makar (Scotland’s Poet Laureate), Jackie Kay, Celtic fusion band, Niteworks and Scottish actors Lorne MacFayden and Siobhan Redmond.

Further details will be revealed in the coming weeks as we countdown to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay kick-off on 28th December."

And we hope by the end of 2021, these other charming, in-person New Year's customs will be able to be observed in Scotland. "First footing" is the idea that the first person to cross the threshold of your home is a harbinger of good luck. Starting immediately after midnight, people call on friends, going from house to house for much of the night and even into the morning and next day, with over half the population of Scotland observing the practice of "first-footing." It is good luck for the "first-footer" to be a tall, dark male. Traditionally, this male would bring gifts of a coin (symbolizing prosperity), bread/ black bun fruitcake (symbolizing food), salt (flavor), coal (warmth), or a drink (good cheer). These days, a "first-footer" usually just brings the whiskey!

January 1st is Ne'erday, a contraction of New Year's Day. The celebrating and "first-footing" continue, the annual Loony Dook takes place in the Firth of Forth (a wacky costumed cold plunge for charity), and many Scots still observe the day with a special dinner of steak pie.

Haud Hogmanay, everyone!